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  1. #16

    • Beach Expert
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    Sep 2006
    A beach town that Harbor Blvd was named after

    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Glad you made it to Newport. That's where I live btw. So it was interesting seeing someone's perspective during the off season.

    I do suggest going back during the summer. A totally different vibe as there are people all over the place. The sand won't be cold - in fact it will be hot. And I'm talking burning hot. Flip-flops are suggested for sure. And just so you know the water off the so cal coast is cold and can be as low as 50 degrees in the winter - so your little one definitely was brave when it came to getting his feet wet!

    anyways I am happy you had a great time. Definite to on the harbor cruise. They will show you celebrity homes and the second half of the cruise takes you out into the ocean where you will see sea lions and maybe a dolphin or even a whale!

  2. #17

    • Doombuggy Rider
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    May 2006

    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Great to see a Family's Point of View via Pictures - a few facts & suggestions from someone who grew up "behind the orange curtain" :

    You will find most Newport Beach Surfers / Body Surfers @ THE WEDGE year round due to its massive waves (it is not stroller friendly, which means you will be better off leaving the stroller in the car & carrying mini me - also there is a jetty of rocks between You & Newport Harbor, so please keep mini me in your arms - one fall into Newport Harbor would be a dangerous no no) ....

    The Wedge is located @ the extreme East end of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach (during a south swell of the precise size / direction, there can be waves up to 30 feet in heights) ....

    Typical Weather / Water Temperature during the Seasons:

    The Ocean is warmer then the air during Fall / Winter (which is why Surfers will quickly have a fire in the fire pits handy as soon as they get out of the ocean) .... The Ocean is cooler then the air during Spring / Summer (which is why everyone jumps back into the ocean to cool off frequently) ....

    Both the I-5 & the Hollywood Freeway into the 405 will experience a temporary back up of traffic even during the weekends after 5pm (it usually calms down by 9pm), so its good to take note of detours once you hit stop-and-go traffic (if I'm near Downtown Los Angeles? I'll take the 105 to the 605 to the 5 & bypass most traffic) ....

    I tend to stay @ Courtyard Marriott Buena Park (7621 Beach Blvd) for thee best beds ever & the free parking & free Wifi & a Laundromat & a Pool / Spa - & its affordable prices for me). There's a Starbucks, Burger King & McDonalds within walking distance. There's a Target, along with a Denny's Restaurant, about a block North where the 91 Freeway exits / entrance onto Beach Blvd. I can get Knott's Chicken Dinner (either sit down as its free parking, or order "to go" & enjoy it back @ the Hotel), as well as stok up on Boysenberry Goodies (& the Snoopy's HQ Shop is a "don't miss" if you have children) ....

    The Courtyard Marriott Buena Park offers immediate access to the 91 (Artesia) Freeway which travels East to West (taking you to the 605 Freeway as you travel towards Los Angeles, or taking you to the 5 Freeway as you travel towards Anaheim / Santa Ana). I never asked about Shuttle Service to the Theme Parks, as I tend to drive everywhere (but both Medieval Times & Pirates Adventure Dining are across the street) ....

    all thee best in 2013 -

    C J

    I <3 Making Friends Who Share The Same Interests :-)

  3. #18

    • Member
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    Aug 2008

    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Wow thanks for the great advice everyone. I think next time we visit we will be doing a late summer trip after the schools have started back up. Newport is a place I would like to visit again so the advice you guys have shared is great to know for when we return. Thanks.

    And with that said here is the 1st of 3 updates from our first day at Disney.

    Day 3, Part 1: Disney California Adventure

    At 6:30am our alarms started going off for the day. Our first day at Disney was upon us and we had hoped to make it to Disney California Adventure at least 30 minutes prior to park opening so that we could get a decent spot in the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass Line. I was up first and got showered. While Showering Kiera also got up and started getting ready leaving only Daniel left however he still had to feed that morning before leaving the Hotel. As he feed I got his stroller out of the car and packed up. I also got the Ice in our Cooler switched out for the day to keep our cold items cool. We were soon on our way to the park though.

    One of the reasons we chose the Hotel we did was because of its close proximity to the parks. The gate enterance was about a 1 mile walk away. And if we decided we didn't want to make the full walk we could always hop on the Tram at the Mickey and Friends parking structure that was right next to our hotel. Although we were a close walk to the parks we didn't know how much time it would take to walk there. We also didn't get out of the hotel as quickly as we planned leaving the hotel only 5 mintues prior to the time we planned to be at the park. I'm pretty sure we couldn't walk to the park within 5 minutes.

    The walk to the park was fairly quite as we didn't encounter any other park guests until we were on the corner of the Parking Structure. If staying at this hotel don't be scared of the walk. Its thru a nicer area of Anaheim and we never felt uncomfortable making the walk. Even after nightfall. We walked quickly from the hotel to the park and in total the walk took only about 15 minutes.

    Passing thru Security was quick and easy as there was no line. However there was still a fairly large line in the Esplanade waiting to get into DCA. This was our first look at the New DCA. We had finally returned. As a reminder when we visited in 2008 part of the reason why was so that we could see DCA in its original state as I had never visited that park and its multi-year, Billion Dollar Plus Renovation was just beginning. This trip was in part so that we could see all the Changes that happend at DCA over the previous 4 years.

    The entry way to the park is the first change you will come across. Instead of walking into a Postcard you now enter the park thru a recreation of the Pan Pacific Auditorium enterance. Yes gone are the CALIFORNIA letters that so many people enjoyed taking photos with. And yes this is the same style enterance that is also used at the Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida. Although It seems bigger and more well done in California then it is in Florida.

    Do to an increase of Ticket Fraud the Disneyland Resort is also now ID'ing everyone (except minors) who have multiday tickets. So make sure you have your ID and your park ticket ready to go before you get to the Turnstyle. It seemed like the biggest hold ups in the line were from people who didn't have there ID's ready to go. For those of you who do the Citypass like we did you will present your Plastic Citypass card here at the turnstyle. After the CM's Scan it though and check your ID they will print you out new 3 day Parkhopper Paper Tickets that you will use for all of your Disney days. You won't need your Citypass card anymore during your time at Disney.

    After passing thru the turnstyles you find yourself on the New Buena Vista Street. The new entry way into DCA is leaps and bounds better then the old Sunshine Plaza. Yes the very few neat features of Sunshine Plaza are gone such as the Golden Gate Bridge. Now in its place is a street made to look like Los Angeles from the 1920's. Basically what the town would have looked like when Walt Disney first came to California. In changing the Entrance they also made it larger by pushing the Turnstyles back to where the old CALIFORNIA letters were placed. Driving up and Down Buena Vista Street is the Red Car Trolleys that add alot to the area. Of course they weren't running yet though as the park wasn't open yet. At the end of the Street is the replacement of the Sun Hubcap thing. The Carthey Circle Theater which is pretty grand and beautiful and the perfect Weeney for Buena Vista Street and the cap on the opening act of the park. Buena Vista Street is very well executed and truely sets the mood for the park now. I dare go as far to say that Buena Vista Street might be my favorite Theme Park enterance. You could spend hours alone looking at all the details on the street. My one complaint about the street is how short it is. Even with extending the entrance out further into the Esplanda It still is a very short street.

    We entered the park about 10 minutes later then we originally planned to. We found the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass Line already stretching far back into the Hollywood Land area of the park. Luckly for us though my Cousin and her family were already in the park and had a spot in the RSR Fastpass line right in front of the Carthey Circle Theater. So we got in line with them. While waiting in line Kiera took Daniel back to the DCA photo center though to exchange out our Photopass+ Voucher. We decided prior to the trip to Prepurchase Photopass+ as it was only $69 and in addition to all the regular photopass pictures you get around the park and with characters you would also get your photos from the attractions that take your photo and also any Character Meals you do. When you purchase Photopass+ they will send you a voucher in the mail that you exchange in the parks for your special Photopass+ Card. It was something that we were happy we did as we ended up with nearly 250 photos after our trip.

    As we were waiting in the Fastpass line a large group started to form across from the Theater as the parks rope drop was about to happen. It was soon 9am and the park officially opened to the public as most of that large group went rushing towards Carsland much like they do to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Orlando. The Fastpass line also started moving at this point. We ended up waiting about 12 minutes before we were at the RSR Fastpass machines located just outside A Bugs Land. Our Fastpass return time for the attraction wouldn't be until 11:05. However the Fastpasses today for RSR was disconnected from the rest of the park so if we wanted to we could get a Fastpass for another attraction immidiatly.

    With our Fastpasses for RSR now in hand we were free to do whatever with our day. We accomplished what we wanted to be in the park at opening for. Our Cousin went to Carsland to find the rest of his family who was doing the minor Carsland rides before the crowds got too busy. We followed towards Carsland getting our first look down Route 66 into Radiator Springs. We also stopped at the Carsland Sign that had a Photopass photographer present but not a long line. For the Holidays Carsland is all decorated up for Christmas and the sign at the enterance was no different wishing you a Seasons Speedings. There is also a Snow Car present during the Holidays.

    After getting our photo taken we decided at this time not to head in to Carsland yet. Instead we rounded the corner past the Pacific Warf and Paradise Pier areas and went back into the Grizzley Peak Recreation area. We were coming back here not to ride any rides but to grab a World Of Color Fastpass for the show later that evening. The Fastpass location for WOC is located at the Grizzly River Run ride. We were able to get the Fastpass in the Blue section for the only showing tonight at 8:15pm. The fastpass doesn't garrentee you a good viewing spot though. Just access into the best area for the show so if you want prime viewing for WOC you will still need to arrive very early and stake out a spot.

    Next to Radiator Springs Racers the next ride that draws a long wait quickly in the Morning is Toy Story Midway Mania located in Paradise Pier so thats where we went next to make it the first ride of our day. This was my first time Seeing Paradise Pier not under construction and the Lagoon being full. When we came in 2008 the Lagoon was drained as construction for the World of Color infastructure was about to begin. The Sunwheel was also behind scafolding as it was changed into Mickey's Fun Wheel and the Games of the Boardwalk were also being rethemed at the time. The area looks much nicer when the Lagoon is filled with water then it did before lol.

    In 2008 Toy Story Midway Mania was brand new and was the longest line we waited in that entire trip. Thats still the same today as it already had a 25 minute wait when we entered the line. Luckly for us my Cousin and her family had finished with Carsland and were already in the line for Toy Story when we arrived so we were able to hope in line with them waiting only about 5 minutes until we boarded the ride. Toy Story is a 3D interactive Dark Ride that takes you thru a series of Midway type games that the Toy Story characters have set up. From a ring toss to a baloon pop to even a dish breaking game. Its alot of fun and a ride I consider a must see at least once on your trip. Especially if your competitive like my Wife and I are with one another. When we rode this ride back in 2008 Kiera beat me on not only Toy Story Midway Mania but also on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters as well. In Orlando earlier this year though I beat her each time we went on Toy Story and Buzz as well. So what would be the results this time. Well Kiera beat me this time. Keeping her undefeated in California thus far. Her score was 130,300 to my 127,300.

    So which version of the ride do I prefer? The one here in DCA or the Hollywood Studios version in Orlando. I do like the exterior facade of the DCA version more. The Victorian look of the facade fits the pier great and gives a very classic and elegant vibe to the whole area. The Mr. Potato Head Barker also makes more sense in DCA as he is postioned right at the front of the ride calling out to the people walking past on the pier to come try out the games/ride. Thats where it ends though. Once you enter the que in DCA its incredibly boring and bland. Hollywood Studios diffenitly wins as far as the que goes as the moment you walk into it you are already shrunk to to Toy Size and walking thru Andys bedroom as huge replicas of toys and games are all around you. Because of this emersion in Florida from Que to Ride (even the DCA version goes to Andys bedroom during the ride portion) I think Hollywood Studios version is better. Although the ride is good in both parks The que really adds to the experiance and makes the ride make more sense. Although the DCA version does not offer Fastpass like the Orlando version so the standby lines are typically shorter. Still the ride will draw one of the longest waits in DCA so try to ride early to avoid those lines.

    After we were done with Toy Story we did the first ride that we would child swap on. Since we had the unique chance to be in the parks today with my Cousin and her Family it actually gave Kiera and I (as well as my cousin and her husband) a chance to ride some rides together. So Kiera and I walked right next door with my cousin from Toy Story to the enterance to the California Screamin Roller Coaster. This would be our first experiance with Child Swap at the Disneyland Resort. We expected it to be the same as it is in WDW but it is different. In WDW when you did Rider Swap they gave you a Fastpass card right at the entrance for the person sitting out with the Child to use later. Riderswap was different at almost every attraction. Some attractions gave us the card right in front of the attraction like in WDW. While others had us take a different card into the ride with us that we switched out for the riderswap before boarding the vehicle. Others gave us nothing and we just asked for it at the exit of the ride. Screamin was one that had us exchange later in the ride. They still verified at the enterance that we had a child we would need to do Riderswap for. They then gave us one of those time lanyards to exchange for the actual Riderswap card right before boarding.

    As we entered the standby que for Soarin the wait was only posted at 15 minutes. My cousin took Daniel with her back to Toy Story where her family was already qued up to ride it again as it was one of her boys favorite rides. At this time in the morning they were only using one of the two load side for the coaster so the wait actually took just a little longer then 15 minutes. We were soon on the coaster though and on our way out above the Paradise Bay Lagoon where the Coaster then comes to a stop. The countdown begins 5-4-3-2-1 and then the Coaster launches down the track and up the first hill. Screamin is really a great coaster and one that puts a big smile on my face everytime I ride. The coaster is so smooth and is long too. Theres a reason that this is one of my favorite coasters and a ride I consider to be a Do Not Miss in DCA.

    Although that doesn't mean the ride is without its flaws. Screamin is a ride that is still a reminder of the Old DCA. Not that the ride itself doesn't fit Paradise Pier but in that the Que is still the old Neon filled Cement waistland as it was not rethemed to the Victorian Look like most of the Pier was. The Song that plays during the ride also isn't the greatest thing i've ever heard. Some people complain because Screamin doesn't have a story to it. Honestly I don't think it needs one. The major point of the ride is to provide a backdrop to Paradise Pier and add energy to the area of the coaster moving thruout the area. It does that great. It also doesn't bother me that its a steel coaster themed to look like a Wood coster. So the ride is great. The Que not so much. I really hope with the success of the DCA relaunch that they finish converting the whole Paradise Pier area to the Victorian theme starting with retheming Screamin's que.

    Obviously WDW doesn't have Screamin. But they do have a coaster that is kind of somewhat similar in Rockin Roller Coaster at the Hollywood Studios. Yes RNR is and Indoor Coaster but its similar in that both coasters have a launch and inversions. Honestly Its a tough choice trying to decide which one is better. I like that RNR actually has a Story to it and the Arrowsmith Music is much better however Screamin is much smoother and its such a blast to watch the Pier all around you just as if you were riding a coaster on a boardwalk. Although I think RNR may be Disney's best Indoor coaster I think I would give the slight edge to Screamin as the better of the two. With a new soundtrack and Que Screamin would win in my opinion by a larger margin.

    At the exit of Screamin is stand where you can view and purchase your ride photos. Typically in the past this isn't something we've cared for. Yeah we would look at the photo and maybe even take a picture with our camera and that was the extent of it. But remember on this trip we decided to purchase the Photopass+ and therefore our ride photos were included. Loading your ride photo to Photopass+ is very easy. You just need to take note of your photos number then go over to the kiosk, tell the CM your number, hand them the Photopass+ card, let them scan it and your done. They will also hand you a reciept to verify the photo loaded to your card. I'm pretty sure by the end of the trip that Photopass+ likely paid for itself in the ride photos we got alone.

    After our photo was loaded to the Photopass we walked back over to Toy Story to wait for my Cousins Family and Daniel to finish on Midway Mania. We walked around the exit shop for a bit and then noticed that the Mr. Potato Head Barker was out from behind the cover talking to people on the boardwalk. As we were watching it do its thing we noticed my Cousin coming up the que towards the loading area of the ride. I figured since they hadn't rode yet then there was no need for them to take Daniel with them so I asked a CM if it was ok If I grabbed my son from them. He opened the Alternate Enternace gate for me (I belive it was the former Single Rider Line) so they I could grab Daniel. After grabbing Danny and walking back out towards Kiera the CM asked if we would like to hop in line and ride the ride with the rest of our party. Heck yeah we would. They let us thru the Alternate Entrance and handed us some 3d glasses and we loaded into the Ride Vehicle with no wait. I wasn't planning on riding Toy Story again but it was way cool that they let us cut in line to ride again with my Cousin and her family.

    The first time we rode I had Daniel on my Lap and Kiera managed to beat me. This time Kiera held Daniel on her lap so I figured I would have the upper hand this time. As the games started both Kiera and I realized how exhausting it could be pulling that little string to shoot the gun. We were both tired and it was starting to hurt to pull it lol. Daniel loves all things Toy Story and we tried getting him to wear the glasses while on the ride but he wasn't having it. He just wanted to play with them. Even though he couldn't see clearly though he still loves the ride especially when he would see and hear the characters. In the end I thought not having Daniel would give me the win over Kiera. I was wrong as this time around she not only beat me but distroyed me winning 155,800 to my 120,200. She remains undefeated in California and not only did she beat me this round but she also got the Best in Vehicle score for the day as well.

    After our unexpected spin on Toy Story my Cousin and her Husband took the Riderswap Card and went over to take there ride on Screamin. While they went on the coaster we took Daniel and there Boys over to King Tritons Carousel to take a spin while we waited for them to return. The wait was very short as we were able to get on the next ride then the one currently going. Daniel had rode on 1 Marry-go-round before and the was the one in Suess landing at Islands of Adventure earlier this year. That ride turned from fun to kinda scarey for him as he enjoyed sitting on the animal but did not like the up and down going around motions. So would he like this one? Yes he absolutly loved it this time. Especially since for the most part he can support and hold himself up now on them. The only thing that was unexpected was when the ride E-Stopped right after it started. I almost fell over myself. We aren't sure why it stopped but they had to come around again and recheck the belts. By the time we were done my Cousin and her Husband were already done with Screamin. They seemed to enjoy it as it was a ride they didn't plan to ride.

    By the time we finished on the Carousel our Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers had become avalible to use so we started to make our way towards Carsland. Instead of walking down from the Carsland Sign into the heart of Radiator Springs we went in the back way. Cutting thru the Pacific Warf area. Many people claim that if you want a true WOW moment then this is the way you should first enter Carsland. They are not lieing. The view of the Cadillac Mountain Range is jaw dropping and breath taking as you see the whole view of the valley. It is simply amazing what Disney has done with the rock work here. The WOW moment was "Almost" as good as the first time we approched Hogwarts castle in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.

    As we walked further down Cross Street you can see the ride vehicles from Radiator Springs Racers racing thru the desert. They even have sound effects of engine noises to help hide the squeal that is so familiar at Test Track that the vehicles make. When we got to Route 66 it was very obvious that just like the Wizarding World, Carsland was the popular spot of DCA as there were people everywhere. It was pretty amazing to see the land up close though. Its seriously like you just walked into the movies. Radiator Springs is done perfectly. Red the Firetruck had just pulled out to meet guests. But we didn't have time for that. We turned and headed towards the Courthouse. Next to that is the enterance to RSR.

    We once again planned to Rider Swap so that we could get multipule rides on RSR. Dispite both of our families having Fastpass we still asked for a Riderswap card at the entry to the que where on RSR they gave us the card right away. We were gonna let my Cousin and her husband and 1 of there boys go first (there 2nd boy wasn't tall enough) but there other son started to have a melt down once the started to leave. Instead they let Kiera and I go first and we took there oldest son with us. They had already rode it twice before so it wasn't a huge priority for them. As you enter the Que you walk thru the desert landscape before going under a bridge and finding yourself in Stanleys Oasis. If you havn't seen the CarsToon that was created specifically for the rides que backstory when Stanley founded Radiator Springs he created his Oasis to sell Radiator Caps to vehicles traveling across the desert. It is located right next to the actual "Radiator Spring" which you will pass and see water bubbling out of in the que. The load area was a hotel type place called the comfy caverns.

    Right before we were to the Fastpass Merge Point something that I should have expected to happen, Happened. The Ride went down. For nearly 20 minutes the ride sat quite. We waited and waited and contemplated about leaving and coming back since we hadn't turned in the Fastpasses yet. But then the ride started cycling again. Vehicles were running empty and every now and them a CM went by in one. Then it went silent again for nearly 10 more minutes only to start cycling once again. Nearly 50 minutes had now passed since we got in line. The Fastpass Line. Finally the entire Que started cheering and Clapping. They announced the ride was ready to go again. Within 10 minutes of the ride starting back up we were finally boarding. This would be the longest wait we had for any ride the entire trip. I hope it will be worth it.

    You load into your car which just like the characters in the movies has Windshield Eyes and smile in the bumper. Each car is also painted about 6 different colors and theres even a couple different headlight and taillight designs on the cars. As you start moving to the Seatbelt check the Saftey message comes on in Sheriffs voice followed by the Saftey message repeated in Spanish by Ramones. This over the rumbling of the vehicles Engine. I loved these little touches. After the Seatbelt your on your way as the ride starts outdoors at a slow pace as you cruise thru the Ornament valley like Lightning and Sally Do in the First film. You pass under an archway and then have that same moment as you approch a beautiful waterfall. Then you enter the showbuilding where your nearly ran off the road by Mack and then you cut of Van and Mini who still seemed to be lost. As you approch a Railroad crossing the vehicle speeds up as you attempt to beat the train but you turn at the last minute only for Sheriff to come out behind the Radiator Springs sign telling you to slow down. Next up Mater approches the vehicle asking if you want to go Tractor tipping. As you approch the tractors Mater tells you what to do and your car honks its horn turning the tractors on there backs. Not happy about this Frank appears and the vehicle speeds up as your chased away. You the enter the Town of Radiator springs where you see the full size animatronics of the residents you haven't seen yet such as Sarge, Fillmore, Lizzy, Red, Sally, and Lightning. This is where the track splits into two as you will be directed into Luigis Tires or Ramones Paint shop. This ride we went into Luigi's where you'll stop as Luigi and Guido put some new White Wall tires on your car for the race. Theres even a mirror effect to show off your tires before and after. You then roll into a garage where Doc is on a lift giving you advice for your big race. As you pass by and stop you see Luigi and Guido again ready to start the race then the 2nd vehicle pulled up next to us. Then the race starts as you shoot back outdoors and race the other car thru the mountains around some steeply banked curves and bunny hills as the cars switch off who has the lead. With the Finish line in site the other car pulled slightly ahead of ours and won the race. The ride ends as you enter Taillight Caverns and see Lightning and Mater again who are now talking about your race. You won't typically spend alot of time in here but for some reason our vehicle stopped for a couple of minutes as we waited at the track merge with about 6 more vehicles backed up and waiting in the caverns behind us. We were soon unloaded and walked passed the photo location where we once again loaded the photo from the ride to our Photopass+ card.

    So was RSR worth the hour that we ended up waiting for it do to its breakdown? Well it depends on how long you'd wait for any ride. Personally I don't think any ride is worth and hours wait. RSR being no exception. Now let me first say that RSR is an amazing ride and is not to be missed. I highly recommend getting to the park early to get the Fastpass or just use Single Riders though as this thing gets a long line and keeps it all day. Especially with the frequent breakdowns it still has. Disney hit it out of the park with this ride. Its a top notch attraction with not only a thrilling race section but the Animatronics are turely incredible. Its amazing how articulated the characters are inside the ride. Like they were pulled right out of the movie. Is it the best ride in Disney California Adventure? Yes I would say it is. Is it the best Ride in the whole Disneyland Resort? I wouldn't say so. I would still place Indiana Jones and maybe even Splash Mountain above it. Still its a world class attraction that the Resort and more so the Park was in desperate need of. I think the Test Track technology was put to much better use on RSR then it is on Test Track. More then anything in a theme park world where Screen based attractions seem to be becoming more and more regular it was refreshing to see a ride rely one physical sets, amazing rock work, and animatronics and still give a true E-Ticket experiance. I thought the ride felt just right length wise and would only say I wish there was more to the leasurly cruise at the beginning of the ride. Compared to Test Track RSR is the better of the 2 although I think the "break test", "switchbacks", and Higher speed do make Test Track slightly more of a thrilling ride. However I still havn't rode the New Test Track so these comparisons are to the old version of the ride.

    It had been over an hour now since we left Daniel with my Cousin and went on RSR. We called to find where they were at and she told me they were in Bugs Land letting there younger son ride some rides there while they were waiting for us. Daniel had fallen asleep so they were just taking it easy. We walked back on to Route 66 looking at some of the Carsland Christmas decorations on the way. The streets have Garland strung up above them made out of Airfilters and tires and Wrench snowflakes. At the Courthouse The Stanely statue is more festive wearing a Santa Hat and hauling a bag of toys. The City Christmas tree was covered in different hubcaps. It was all very fun and unique to what you would expect in a world of living cars. They even recorded some original versions of Christmas songs to make them more relatable to Cars. I loved it. We turned down Cross street again walking Past Luigis Flying Tires where there is an enterance to Bugs Land,.

    In Bugs Land we quicly found my Cousin and Daniel who had now just woke up from his nap. They too were done with Bugs Land so we made our way out of the land and into Hollywood Land finding ourselves right in font of the Tower of Terror. This was another ride that my Cousin had not rode yet do to having a younger child so since we were there with them we took there younger son while She, Her husband, and oldest son went to ride. They also grabbed a Riderswap for us so that Kiera and I could ride as well afterwards. There youngest son once again had a minor freakout as his parents and brother entered the Hollywood Tower Hotel but he calmed down quickly when he realized we were going to another ride to kill the time why we waited.

    That ride just a short walk down the road is the Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue ride. Since the ride is now located in the Hollywood Backlot area its almost kind of hard to find as its hidden behind the stages and infastructure built for the night time partys known as the Mad T Party. As with our previous visit this ride is practically always a walk on. I honestly don't know why this is because I think its a pretty solid and good Family Dark Ride. The ride takes you on a Taxi Ride thru Monstropolis as the events of the Movie unfold. You follow Mike and Sulley around as they try to get Boo safely back home. Its not thrilling at all but its a decently long ride with some alright effects in the ride. For being converted from what was left over from the crapfest that was Superstart Limo I think Disney did just fine on this ride and I don't understand the hate it seems to get. I think the ride is better then all of the Fantasyland Dark Rides in Disneyland with the exception of maybe Roger Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland. I also think it was better then the Little Mermaid ride also located in DCA. Daniel really loved it as well but its also one of the movies that he loves.

    With no wait for Monsters Inc we were done before my Cousin and her family were at the Tower. We took the time to use the Restrooms and also change Daniels diaper. Soon though they were done and it was very clear that there son that went on it with them was not happy about the ride at all and didn't like it lol. It was soon our turn though as they took Daniel and there boys and went back towards Monsters Inc, we took the Riderswap card and now it was our turn for the Tower of Terror.

    If your a WDW vet the first thing you'll notice about the DCA Tower of Terror is that it looks completly different from the version that is found at Hollywood Studios. Thats because this is the Value engineered version of the Tower of Terror. When bringing the Tower to California to try to help the struggling park Disney still didn't want to invest in building the Florida Tower. Instead they went back to the drawing boards for this (and future towers in Paris and Japan). They were able to increase capacity by designing the tower with 3 shafts instead of Floridas 2 and also introduced a two level loading system. But what they eleminated was the entire moving portion of the ride when the elevator leaves the shaft and entered the 5th dimension. You also exit the ride in the same location that you board which in my opinion also ruins the illusions of the ride. Still the DCA tower is a ride that should not be missed.

    As you enter the Tower you enter the hotel lobby that is old and run down however its not as grand as it is in Orlando. The ride still has the exact same story line as the Orlando version which is told to you in the Library video. you then enter the boiler room where you head to your matinance service elevator for your trip to the Twilight Zone. Although in Cali the Boiler room isn't themed as good as Floridas and like I said earlier is multi-level. Although the attraction was dead enough where they only had one level open right now and honestly Riderswap didn't save us any time. We soon boarded the elevator and as it pulled back from the doors the whole room became a starfield. The doors close and the elevator started to raise only to open in front of mirror. However you will watch your reflextion fade into a ghostly image before the doors close and you move again. Now you look down a hallway where the ghosts of the 1930s guests appear to you and dissapear just like in Florida. Except for the window crashing a door opens and this is when you enter the Twilight Zone. The vehicle then starts its launches upwards and its drops back down. However unlike Florida the Drop sequence is not randomized and is the same in each shaft each ride. You then exit where you entered and then walk down what seems like an unthemed hallway to the exit gift shop.

    It almost sounds like I really don't like the DCA version of the ride. But that couldn't be further from the truth. I do really love this ride. It would easily take the #2 spot for my best ride in the California Adventure Park. However it just pales in comparisson to the greatness that is the original Tower of Terror in the Hollywood Studios in Florida. That ride is amazing in practically every shape and form where in DCA you can tell where costs were cut. Still its a good ride that should not be missed. Just don't expect the Florida version when you ride.

    After once again loading our ride photo from the Tower of Terror to our Photopass+ card walked back down towards the Monsters Inc. ride where my Cousins and her Family were just finishing up with there ride on the attraction. At this point in the day they had finished all that they wanted to do for there last time in California Adventure on the trip and wanted to spend there remaining time over at Disneyland. We originally planned to spend our entire first day in DCA however my Cousin and her Husband still had one ride they wanted to do that neither of the Children were tall enough to ride on. So we decided to walk over to Disneyland with them so that they could ride this attraction before heading home. So we packed the kids in the stroller and walked out of Hollywood Land and thru Buena Vista Street leaving DCA for now.

    Our next destination was located a short walk across the Esplanade in Disneyland park. Man I love how easy park hopping is in California.

  4. #19

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Loving all the pics!! keep em coming

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 3, Part 2: Disneyland and California Adventure
    I don't think I could honestly ever consider the extra cost of getting a Park Hopper ticket when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. The Resort is so big and the parks so spread a part that you would waist so much time hopping between parks that it doesn't seem worth it. However a park hopper is pretty much a must have at the Disneyland Resort (unless your trying to keep your budget low). I also think the same thing about the Universal Orlando Resort with the 2 parks next to each other as well a Park to Park ticket is a must. As we exited California Adventure the walk across to Disneyland took no longer then 3 minutes to make. Thats shorter then it is to Walk from Universal Studios Florida to Islands of Adventure and you'd never be able to park hop in that kind of time at WDW. Just remember to have you ID and tickets out as you approch the turnstyle to speed up your entry if you have multiday tickets.

    We were soon in Disneyland. In my opinion the Best and Greatest Theme Park there is. The park that every Theme/Amusment Park i've been to is compared to and none have been able to top it. The one and only park that Walt Disney himself walked in. We soon walked thru the Tunnels leaving the "real" world behind and entered a World of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy. We exited the Tunnel on to Main Street USA that at the time was setting up the Candlelight Processional that would be taking place later that evening.

    Having walked down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom only 7 months earlier I couldn't help but compare the two. But don't think thats a bad thing. Both are incredibly well done and very detailed. In Disneyland you have the Original. Designed by Walt himself. Its small and charming and at the end is the parks icon. Sleeping Beauty Castle. Yes the Castle is small. but its very charming and fits with the scale of Disneylands Main Street and Hub perfectly. Everything with the Magic Kingdom was intended to be built on a much larger and more Grand scale then it was originaly in Disneyland. This is no more evident then it is on Main Street as The Magic Kingdoms is much larger and Grand and the lead up to that parks icon Cinderella Castle is nothing short of Epic. Infact the Magic Kingdoms Main Street USA is probably one of the very few things I prefer about the Magic Kingdom over Disneyland.

    As I mentioned earlier Kiera and I did not plan on hopping over to Disneyland today. Originally we were gonna spend the entire day over at DCA. But do to spending part of our time with my Cousin and her family, and this being there final day in the park, and the only time that we could Rider Swap while watching one anothers children, there was one attraction that they still wanted to do before leaving that neither of the kids were tall enough for. A ride that had just reopened from a Major referbishment not even 5 days earlier. The Indiana Jones Adventure. So at the end of Main Street we tightly turned left and entered Adventureland where the attraction is located.

    Adventureland is another land that is Much, Much larger and more grand in the Magic Kingdom then it is in Disneyland. Adventureland is actually very small and gets pretty bottlenecked at the busier times of the day. I could only imagine how much worse it is during peak times of the year. Where in the Magic Kingdom Adventureland is devided into three smaller themed areas (An Arab, Polynesian, and Caribbean) theres just one generic Jungle theme that you'll see in Disneyland with the exception of the Arab facade to the now closed Aladdins Oasis. However dispite how small Disneylands Adventure land is they were able to make great use of the space as in addition to the Indiana Jones Adventure the area is also home to the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, and Tarzans Treehouse.

    When we arrived at the Indiana Jones Adventure Fastpass Machines we underestimated its popularity to it just recently reopening. The standby wait at this time was nearly 1 hour out and even the Fastpass return wouldn't be until 3:05pm. That was still 1 1/2 hours away at this point. Double the time I expected it to be as fastpasses are usually only 45 minutes out. We still pulled the Fastpasses and thought about what to do to kill the time.

    Two days earlier on the first day that my Cousin and her Family started there Disneyland vacation they tried to get on Pirates of the Caribbean multipule times only to find the ride down each time they tried. Up to this point they still had not rode it and it was a ride that was on there childrens must see list. With plenty of time to kill before we could use the fastpasses for Indy we decided to check to see if it was open. Which to my cousins luck it was.

    Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Pirates of the Caribbean is not located in Adventureland. Instead its in an area that Walt designed specifically around the attraction called New Orleans Square. In addition the Pirates the Haunted Mansion is also part of the area here in Disneyland. Although the attraction enterance for Pirates is pretty much right on the boarder of Adventureland. A word of advice if heading to Pirates from Adventureland is to stay left and not go over the bridge. This bridge will cross over the Pirates que and continue on into the rest of New Orleans Square.

    We parked the strollers and then got in the line for Pirates of the Caribbean which had a posted 10 minute wait. This is a line that shouldn't scare you based on how long it looks. When we got in line we thought the line looked much longer then 10 minutes. We were wrong as it really did only take 10 minutes until we were boarding our boat. Although the exterior Facade is great for Pirates (along with Disneylands Dream Suite located above it) and I love seeing the returning boats float past as you first enter the building the Que for the Magic Kingdoms Pirates is much better then Disneylands. However that is the only + I give to the Orlando version of the ride as literally everything else is better in California.

    After boarding your boat in the Disneyland version you start your journey as you slowly float thru the Louisiana Bayou. Theres Fireflys flying around you with the soft sounds of a banjo playing in the distance. To your right is the Blue Bayou restaurant. One of the most unique resturants i've seen as its setting is the bayou that your floating thru as part of the attraction. I've always wanted to eat there but its just way too expensive for our taist. After passing some rickity looking houseboats you come to the Skull and Crossbones warning you of the adventure ahead. Then just as the sound of a Waterfall approches you plunge down that waterfall into a dark cavern. As you drift thru this cavern you once again start to hear the sound of a Waterall and again you plunge down a 2nd hill. Something that the Magic Kingdoms abrivated version doesn't have. Now you find yourself in the Grotto where the Magic Kingdom version of the ride starts but in Disneyland you will also pass thru a shipwreck and very detailed tresure room.

    From this point on the ride is almost the same as the Magic Kingdom version. Just like in Orlando Jack Sparrow and some friends were added to the attraction making it almost like an overly obsessed wheres waldo game as many of the pirates claim to be looking for Jack Sparrow. These movie additions seem to get alot of critisim from Disney fans but honestly its not something that really bothers me. Some of the Jack Animatronics don't seem to stand out unless your looking for them and its kind of fun to look for them. Although it does get old hearing Jacks name over and over again. Near the end of the ride you won't unload early like you do in Florida but instead you will ride the boat back up the lift hill and then float past all the people waiting in the que for there ride. You exit where you loaded and then walk past the Blue Bayou restuarant and exit into the heart of New Orleans Square kind of a ways away from where the enterance to the attraction is located.

    To say that the Disneyland version of the ride is better then the Magic Kingdoms is an understatement. In my opinion the Original ride is a significantly better version of the ride as your seeing it as it was intended to be. Not the rush job that Florida thru together to appease dissapointed guests. It was really funny to watch Daniel on the ride as well as overall he really enjoyed it but you could tell that he was not a fan of the drops at all. Each time he heard those waterfalls he tensed up right away to prepair from them. Pirates is one of those attractions that should not be missed no matter what park it is located in.

    Dispite Pirates taking up 30 minutes of our time we still had over an hour to go until our Fastpasses could be used at Indy. My cousin and her family decided to head over to Fantasyland to reride some rides however at this point in the day Kiera and I were starting to get hungry. Being so close to Adventureland though we decided to get one of our favorite Disney treats. A Dole Whip. I've mentioned it in past that I am not a fan of Pineapple. Yet for some reason I love Dole Whips. Although if your going to get one at Disneyland be prepaired to wait as the line was very long for them. Unlike at the Magic Kingdom that ran 3 or 4 registers for the taisty treat Disneyland was only running 1 (although I later learned that the short is often shorter buying it in the Enchanted Tiki room courtyard).

    While Kiera waited in line for the Dole Whip I went back to the Bengal Barbeque to get us lunch. Don't expect to see very large meals sold at the Bengle BBQ though as all they serve are snack type Items. The main thing being BBQ Skewers. Although they aren't huge there is a suprising amoung of food on the scewers. And being fairly cheap you can buy a couple different kinds to share. And this is what we did. I got us a the Banyan Beef which is a Hot and Spicy Skewer, a Chieftain which is a Polynesian style, and the Safari which doesn't have beef or chicken on it but instead is Bacon wrapped Asparagas. The whole order only cost about $12 and was enough to feed both of us. We thought the food was good for what it was.

    With our stomachs full we still had time to kill before meeting back up with my cousin and her family for our rides on Indy. We decided to walk back down to New Orleans Square to try and ride the other attraction located in this land. The Haunted Mansion. Which during the Christmas and Halloween Holidays is actually transformed with a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. The attraction is very popular during the Holidays. So much so that its the only time of year that you can get Fastpass for the Haunted Mansion. And such was today too. When we got to the gates of the Mansion the posted wait was at 35 minutes. We wouldn't have enough time to ride so we passed it up today. As we were walking away we noticed down near the Rivers of America that Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas were out doing a Meet and Greet. We figured that could be a good way to kill some time too but they had already cut off the line.

    With not enough time to do any attractions we decided to just walk the streets of New Orleans Square and look at some shops. Obviously New Orleans Square does not exist in Orlando as they got Liberty Square instead. If I had to compare the 2 New Orleans Square wins hands down. Its so unique and tranquil as its perched slightly higher above the rivers of america. The streets are fun to walk and the Christmas decor is pretty much one of a kind and the most unique decor you will find on property. The area is small and anchored at both ends by the two E-Tickets but its worth taking the time walking thru the area and checking it out.

    The time had soon come that we would meet back up with my Cousin so we started to head back to Adventureland to meet them at Indy. Looking back on it now I don't know why we didn't just walk thru Tarzans Treehouse to kill some time. The views from above are pretty great and there is never any sort of wait to walk thru it. Unfortunatly We never did walk thru it during any part of our trip. We did walk thru it though on our 2008 trip so I am still able to compare it to the Magic Kingdoms Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. Many of you probably already know that Tarzans treehouse was at one point the Swiss Family Robinson as well. Unfortunatly Disney felt it needed to be plussed converting it to Tarzan and sticking lifesize Animated style stautes of the Tarzan movie characters thruout it. They took something so unique. An experiance that you could walk into the treehouse as if the Swiss Family Robinson welcomed you to explore there home. It doesn't have that feeling any more with these plastic statues characters everywhere now. This is one attraction that the Magic Kingdom still does better. Although I like the layout of Disneylands treehouse more.

    A few minutes after we arrived at Indy my cousin and her family did as well. Since they had the Fastpass she and her husband went first and would grab us the riderswap card in the attraction. Indy is another one where they gave the time card that you exchanged for the Riderswap card right before boarding the ride. To kill the time why they were on Indy we took Daniel and there 2 boys next door to the Jungle Cruise. The time posted for the Jungle Cruise was 25 minutes however the App said the true wait would only be about 15. With the upper level of the Jungle Cruise Que also in use I wasn't sure if the App would be right or not. I'm happy to say that dispite walking thru a small part of the upper Que that the app was correct and it only took about 15 minutes before we were boarding the boat for our cruise.

    Our cruise started at it was the first thing we noticed was how excited and energitic our Tour guide was. He was very funny and enthusiastic keeping us all very entertained. The Jungle Cruise is one of the those rides where a good Skipper can really make or break the experiance. Its also a ride i've become more fond of as i've gotten older as you pick up on the jokes easier then you do as a kid. All 3 of the kids really enjoyed the ride and loved looking at the Animatronic Animals. We didn't know before hand but this was a ride that my cousin hadn't taken there kids on yet so I was glad that were able to take them. Some unique features I love about the Anaheim version of the ride was that you float past Indys Temple of the Forbidden Eye and they even work the temple into there dialog. I was very happy to see that they still shot the Hippos as well in Disneyland as that didn't happen on our cruise in the Magic Kingdom. And lastly the Paranna attack is really cool and well done as well.

    But those are the only things I would say are done better in California then they are in Orlando. I won't compare skippers as that will change on a ride to ride basis no matter which park your in. But overall the Magic Kingdom version of the ride wins the comparison of the two. It is another example of the Magic Kingdom trying to go bigger and grander then Disneyland. The ride is much larger and longer there then it is in Disneyland. They have more scenes and I loved the cave you travel thru in Florida that is missing in California. Overall the ride just seems much better there. Its also a Fastpass attraction in Orlando where its not in Anaheim.

    Our timing couldn't have been any better as my Cousin and her Husband finished with Indy a couple minutes before we were done with the Jungle Cruise. We meet up and switched the kids and then with the Riderswap Card, Kiera and I entered the Fastpass line for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. I was very excited for this ride. Indy is my favorite ride in the entire Disneyland Resort. Back in 95 my parents took us to Disneyland when the ride was brand new and my brother and I waited in line for nearly 3 hours to ride the thing. In 2008 the ride although not in perfect condition was still amazing and well worth the 2 rides we took on it. In fact this trip was delayed 1 week later then we originally planned so that we could be there when Indy reopened from its Lengthy Referbishment. I was very excited to see Indy in an almost new condition once again.

    The Que is one of the most amazing parts of Indy. In my opinion it is probably the best Que that Disney has ever created in any of there US parks. Its really a shame that the Fastpass merge point is before you enter the Temple so now you breeze right on thru the amazing Que instead of wait in it. All of the waiting now is outside the Temple. The first signs of the Referb fix are evident in the Que as many of the effects are working once again. Although I missed the lever to trigger the cealing in the Spike Room we were still in it when someone else pulled the lever. Also the Rope gag works again as well that I couldn't resist not pulling. Seriously don't rush thru this que. Take your time and take it in. There aren't CM's everywhere telling you to keep up like there are in Hogwarts.

    We soon arrived to the Load Platform and began our Journey deeper into the Temple. It was great to see the room door effect working again as last time we came it was stuck in one position. Unfortunatly somebody had to look in the Eye of Mara and all Hell started break loose as our Jeep speed thru the Temple. Indiana Jones then appears and starts to help us escape the curse of Mara. Everything looked great in the ride with many of the Laser and Fire effects working once again as we were chased thru the Temple. There were reports of many people saying that the Rolling Boulder at the rides Climax was working sparatically still however on our ride the boulder was diffenitly rolling. However you could barely make it out as the lighting on it was so poor. I remember the lighting on the boulder being much brighter in the past then it is now but maybe i'm wrong. Thanks to Indiana Jones we survived the curse and started making our way back out of the Temple.

    This ride is AMAZING. Even after nearly 18 years this ride still packs a punch. While walking out I told Kiera that Indy is proof that they don't build rides like they use to. Where screen based attractions such Spiderman and Transformers are amazing and becoming the new normal for themed experiances theres just something about large scale three dimensional sets with animatronics and real fire effects that seem to be becoming more and more extinct. Yes Radiator Springs Racers Indoor portion features many of these things which is a relief. However None of the RSR indoor scenes are built on the scale that Indy is. Dispite how amazing the experiance is though I still prefer new version of The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure over Indy. Although I would have picked Indy over the old version of Spiderman and still prefer Indy over Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Transformers. Infact the only Disney ride i've been on that which would barely edge out Indy in my opnion is the Magic Kingdoms version of Splash Mountain.

    Although WDW does not have the Indiana Jones ride they do have a ride using the same Technology at the Animal Kingdom called Dinosaur. Its amazing how you can get such a different experiance with the same technology. Where Indy is simply stunning and amazing from start to finish Dinosaur is kind of a let down. Missing are the huge and large scale sets and in its place is a very dark jungle with dinosaurs jumping out now and then at the vehicle. The rides que isn't anything exciting and the ride vehicles are much rougher then Indys. I don't think the idea of Dinosaur is bad in itself it just seems like it wasn't executed very well. Still Dinosaur isn't a horrible ride. It was probably my 3rd favorite in that park. I would even say Dinosaur is a must see at Animal Kingdom. Just don't expect Indy when you ride it as you will find yourself dissapointed. Indy wins with no contest really and should absolutly not be missed.

    As we exited Indy I couldn't find my Cousin and her Family anywhere. I tried calling her with No answer. We checked the Stroller parking and both strollers were gone so they must have taken the kids somewhere. We remembered that they mentioned that they wanted to do Pirates again so we thought maybe thats where they went. We walked back over to New Orleans square and sure enough we found both strollers parked in front of Pirates. Assuming they shouldn't be too long we grabbed both strollers and walked them over near the Pirates of the Caribbean exit. We didn't think we would have to wait too long but we ended up waiting over 20 minutes for them. I tend to underestimate how long this ride is. Eventually they did come out the exit though and my cousin mentioned again to us which we saw earlier with Daniel getting scared during the drops on the ride.

    This was the point in our day where we would say goodbye to my Cousin and her Family. We had a great time being able to spend most of the day with them as Kiera and I got to ride 4 rides together that we would have had to go on alone otherwise. 3 of which were rides with photos that we were able to load to our photopass+ card as the attraction photos with both of us are much better then the ones with just one. My Cousin and her Family would be spending the remainder of there final Disney day in Disneyland Park. We though would be heading back to California Adventure for the remainder of our day. We made our way thru a busy Adventureland to an even Busier Main Street. With the Candlelight Processional starting in an hour the are was very packed and getting thru was tight and slow.

    We soon exited the park and once again walked across the Esplanda back to DCA. We weren't the only ones with that plan though as there was a large crowd trying to enter that park as well. The line was longer now then it was in the morning. Once again i'm sure in part to people not having there IDs ready to go with there tickets. Again please plan ahead and have your ID's and tickets ready to go before you get to the turnstyles.

    After passing thru the turnstyles we were back in DCA on the beautiful Buena Vista Street. We were able to travel the street much slower this time compared to earlier in the morning as we weren't rushing to get in the RSR fastpass line. The land still amazes me as it is so well themed. Its seriously so hard to believe what was once there before. Its almost like Buena Vista street has always been there. The sound of Trolley bells as they traveled by, the sound of 1930s christmas music playing over the area, the window displays of the stores. Buena Vista street is such a magical place. The feeling I had in the area really can't be explained. I loved it. My only complaint is how relatively short the street is compared to say Main Street over in Disneyland or even Hollywood Blvd at the Hollywood Studios in Florida. Also although pretty I don't like the bridge passing thru the area. However its has to be there to cover up the Monorail track.

    The park was preparing for the start of the Pixar Play parade at this time so much of the parade route was already being ropped off with many people sitting and waiting for the parade to start. We however didn't really care to see the parade so we made our way back to the back of the park and in to the Paradise Pier area. We were going to another ride that was new since our previous visit and became part of the New DCA. We were gonna go ride the Little Mermaid Ride.

    Ariels Undersea Adventure only had a 5 minute wait posted but we pretty much walked right on to the ride. For being a new ride just like Toy Story Midway Mania the Que is rather unimpressive and bland. Although the coral and sea shells in the cement were nice touches. We quickly boarded our Clamshells that look like they could have been borrowed from the Nemo ride at Epcot and were were on our way under the sea. The ride is much like the Fantasyland Dark Rides and even other Dark Rides across the parks where it basically retells the story of the movie. The ride starts out strong and has some great animatronics. The Under the Sea scene of the ride is very bright and fun but it kind of takes you out of the feeling of being under the sea do to its size and the room really uses some of the most basic of basic Animatronics. The ride is paced nicely until you reach the Kiss the Girl scene as from that point on the ride and its ending are incredibly rushed. You won't even catch Ursalas "Death" unless your looking for it as it seems to be tucked away in the corner. I think the only ride with a worse ending is possibly the Snow White ride over in Disneyland. Its just sad that such a strong beginning is left with a very lackluster ending.

    I have to give credit for Disney once again building a classic Dark Ride. A Dark Ride that DCA was in disperate need of (I still think they need a couple more). However this ride is not the E-Ticket second coming of the Haunted Mansion that Disney's PR and blog made it out to be. Although it uses the same omnimover ride system as the Haunted Mansion thats where the simularities end. The Little Mermaid ride isn't bad but its not the best Dark ride in the resort or even the park in for that matter. Daniel really enjoyed the ride though as he really liked dancing along with the music and i'm sure he loved seeing all the animals in the brightly colored scenes. We did stop on the ride shortly after it started for almost 5 minutes. We don't know what happened but a CM did run past us at one point. Still the LIttle Mermaid is a ride worth checking out at least once. After that Its not something that needs to be seen every time. This ride is also something you can now experiance in Florida as well as it recently opened at the Magic Kingdom as part of the Fantasyland Expansion. Its just too bad the DCA version didn't get the great Que that Magic Kingdoms got.

    After finishing the Little Mermaid there was still another ride in Paradise Pier we wanted to ride. Well maybe I shouldn't say we. More like Kiera. This ride was one that was closed when we came in 2008 as it had already started its remodel for the new DCA. We walked all the way around the Lagoon to that ride that Kiera practically had to force me into line for. Mickeys Fun Wheel. I gotta say that I love how Paradise Pier looks at night.

    You may think whats to be scared of? Its just a Ferris Wheel. Well first of all i'm not particularly fond of Ferris Wheels in the first place. I have a large fear of heights and moving slowly around on Ferris wheel does not help calm that fear. The next fear though is the fact that the Fun Wheel has Swinging Gondilas on it. Yes there are stationary ones as well but Kiera wanted to do the swinging. The Swinging Gondilas are on a track so as the Ferris Wheel goes around in the circle the Gondilas will slide down the track making them swing. This is not a ride I EVER cared to go on. I couldn't belive I was gonna give it a try now.

    The line was very short for the Fun wheel however the wait time was posted at 20 minutes. Although the line was short the Fun Wheel loads rediculously slow. But then again what Ferris Wheel doesn't. It loads 2 swinging and 1 stationary gondila at a time. Once all the Gondilas are loaded it will then make 1 full non stop rotation and then you unload. We soon loaded into the Gondila and I immidiatly started to panic and brace myself. I tried to keep calm and focus on using the views to take pictures. However I couldn't get myself to even move my hands from grasping the seat I was on. The first movement the Gondela started moving I started to panic more. And then it made its first big slide and Major Swing and the freak out really started. I don't know who was more freaked out. Me or Daniel. Oh and did I mention that the Gondelas have NO restraints what so ever. That did not help at all. Each Major swing I seemed to panic more and more. I was diffenitly having a larger panic attack about this ride then Daniel was who had the same look on his face as he did on Pirates x1000. However the fear was only in his eyes as he never cried or made a peep on the Fun wheel. Each Big swing Kiera was getting a kick out of my reaction. I hate this stupid ride. Finally though our ride came to an end and I couldn't get off of it quick enough. Seriously I don't care ever to ride this again. I have never, EVER been as scared on a ride in my whole life as I was on the stupid Death wheel. Avoid this ride. Don't go on it. I hated it. But then again this is coming from the guy who had a major panic attack on it lol. Kiera loves the ride and says dispite my freak out she thinks she could get me on it again. If only for her.

    With the worst ride ever done and over with we were once again getting hungry and were ready for dinner. With the Pacific Warf dinning area a short walk away we decided to check that area out to see what dinning options were avalible for dinner. We left Paradise Pier behind until we would be returning for World of Color later in the evening.

  6. #21

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 3, Part 3: Disney California Adventure
    At the Pacific Warf area we looked around at the different food options avalible. From your regular burgers and sandwiches to Chinese and Mexican style food. However none of it really sounded all too great at the moment. So we decided to head back in to Cars Land. Once again going thru the Warf enterance. I thought the view of the Cadillac Mountain range was incredible during the day. Its even more amazing at night when its all lite up. Words seriously can't discribe how great this is to see in person. Pictures only do it so much justice.

    As we approched Downtown Radiator Springs we noticed a large crowd of people in the intersection. What was going on was DJ's Dance n' Drive Street Show. Its a small show that takes place when one of the "import" Cars named DJ rolls into Radiator Springs with his stereo blasting and Neon lights glowing. The Waitresses then come out of Flo's V8 Cafe and they do a little show. As we came to the crowd though the show was just ending and DJ was heading out. We caught part of it again later.

    Since we were still hungry we decided to walk in to to Flo's to see what options they had for dinner. Being in Cars land the place was pretty crowded so after Kiera decided on what she wanted she took Daniel and went to find a place to sit. For those unfamiliar with the Movie Flo's is a Dinner style eatery on Route 66. So it has American style Diner type food. One of the reasons for this trip was to visit Cars Land so we might as well eat at Flo's as well. Outside you may notice that Flo's looks different then it does in the First cars movie. Since Radiator Springs is a popular place once again after Lightning McQueen came to town Flo's has since had some additions built on. If you watch Cars 2 you will see that Flo's in the movie reflects how Flo's in Cars Land looks after the additions. However i'm not sure if in the movie Flo's connected into Doc Hudsons Docters office as the Hospital is one of the areas of the restaurant. On the back side is another large eating area with a large window looking out at the Cadillac Mountain Range and you can faintly hear the Racers engines as they go past in the distance.

    Pricing at Flo's was similar to many other counter service food locations at the resort. I ended up getting the NY Strip Loin with a side of Mashed Potatoes and Pasta Salad. Kiera just got the Kids Menu Turkey Sandwich. With the kids meal they will try to sell you on the "Lightning Mcqueen" box meal that is almost double the cost of a regular kids mean. Although not promoted you can still get normal, cheaper kids meals here. Overall I thought the food was pretty good. It was filling and I wasn't dissapointed with it. We had also got a milk for Daniel that he fell asleep drinking. Although Flo's is Counter Service they still had bus boys coming around cleaning the tables and even taking your food for ya when you were finished.

    Since Daniel was asleep we decided to look around some of the different shops in Radiator Springs. Luigis Tires isn't a shop in Carsland but it is the entrance to one of the Lands 3 rides that we would go on at a later time. Across from that though is Ramones. When Cars Land was being built I really hoped we would see unique merchandise in each shop much like it is in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Unfortunatly it still seemed though that all the shops carried the same items with just a small nitch of specific merchandise. The thing that Romans had that none of the other shops did was the Low N' Slow Car Club merchandise and apparal. This was the stuff that I thought would most appeal to me however I didn't like any of the designs of the stuff. Still it was fun to look around at some of the design features of the shop and the Hood "samples" of Ramones Paint work that were hung around the shop. You can also buy the Luigis Tires hats here.

    Cars Land looks great during the day but it becomes even more magical and surreal after dark. Theres just such a cool feeling to cruise down the street and be surrounded by the Neon Lights everywhere as the sounds of 50's style music echo thru the streets. It takes you back to a simpler time and age. And if your in the Land when the sun goes down I guess they do a little show as all the Neon in the town turns on although we never got to see it. I do wish they could have made the street as long as they did in the film as it does get cut short once you pass Ramones and Luigis but it understandable given space constraints. In front of the Courthouse there was a Photopass Photographer set up so we went and got some pictures even though Daniel was asleep.

    The next shop we stopped by was Radiator Springs Currios. And unfortunatly in my opinion this is the store with the biggest missed oppertunity. Instead of the generic Cars merchandise that you can find everywhere this shop would have been perfect for selling random route 66 inspired odds and ends. And people would have likely ate it up. The walls of the shop are themed with many of these odds and ends however they are just for show. They are not for sale. Instead what the store gives you is your normal run of the meal Disney and Cars merchandise with it also being the pin tradding and purchasing location. This store could have been so much more but now its just a snooze. Although it is the only place you could buy Carsland post cards.

    We went back across the street to Flo's again because it also now had a photopass photographer out taking pictures. Daniel was still asleep but oh well we took the photos anyways. As we were taking the pictures though DJ rolled back in to town and started his dance party thing under the traffic light. The waitresses all came out from Flo's and the party started. Its unique and the crowd seemed to like it. I assume that this show only takes place after nightfall to take advantage of all the Neon and LED lights that are on DJ. We never saw it during the day time but then now that I think about it we never saw Red the firetruck after dark so they must trade off.

    After watching the Dance Party Daniel finally woke up from his nap and we started to make our way to the Cozy Cone Motel. The Cozy Cone serves two purposes. First of all its another food/snack location in Carsland serving all sorts of Cone inspired eats and drinks that are different at each cone. The 2nd function though is that its also where you can meet Lightning McQueen or Mater (but not at the same time) for there Meet and Greets.

    This time of night was one of the shortest waits we saw in the times we spent in Radiator Springs to meet Lightning McQueen so we hopped in line because we had to get a photo with him. The line moved quickly and we got to meet Lightning. Daniel just loved him and the meet and greet experiance here is MUCH better then the one in the Hollywood Studios in Florida. In Florida the characters just sat there with engine sound effects. And that was all. In Cars Land though the vehicles do speak. Although they rotate thru a number of preset phrases they at least attempt to speak to you. There eyes will also move and parts of the body move and shake. Daniel really liked seeing Lightning and it was great to meet him.

    Since we were at the Cozy Cone I decided to get us a treat. In addition to the Cone inspired snacks they also designed a few different specialty drinks. One in particular is called Reds Apple Freeze. Although those of you who have been to the Magic Kingdoms recent Fantasyland Expansion in Florida may also know the drink as Lefous Brew sold at Gastons Pub. This drink has been compared to Butterbeer which is sold at the Wizarding World and is possibly one of the best things i've ever taisted lol. Just like the Frozen Butterbeer, Reds Apple Freeze is a frozen slush drink with a foam topping. Although the drinks may be similar in looks and texture they are very different in taist. Reds Apple Freeze is frozen Apple Juice with a Passion fruit/Mango Marshmellow Foam. So what did we think. Honestly we did not care for the drink at all. Where Butterbeer is an addiction and one of the best drinks ever the Apple Freeze is just not that good. I liked the Frozen Apple Juice. What was really bad though was the Foam. It was just horrible. That first drink I took was only the foam and it wasn't good at all. Kieras thoughts on the drink pretty much echoed mine. Like I said the apple slush itself was alright but unlike the Butterbeer where the foam stays seperated from the slush the foam on Reds Apple Freeze quickly melted and blended with the Slush ruining that as well. Between the 2 of us we never even finished the drink. I'm happy that we gave it a try but its not something I would get again. Ether as Reds Apple Freeze in DCA or as Lefous Brew in the Magic Kingdom.

    The shop across from the Cozy Cone that we next checked out was Sarges Surplus Hut. But your not gonna find any Surplus here. Instead its a Glorified Toy Store. Thats right all thats sold at Sarges is Toys. Again though the themed decor around the shop it self is great as it really gives the impression of an Army surplus shop. Unfortunatly once again though there is no unique merchandise to be seen anywhere for sale in the shop.

    You've probably noticed by now a bit of the Christmas decor all around Radiator Springs. The Christmas decor was very well done in the Land. From the Air Filter Garland, Tire Wreaths, Tool Snowflakes, and Santa Stanly Statue to the unique touches to each individule shope. If you havn't noticed each store or ride has a Christmas tree out in front that reflects the owner. The City Christmas tree is great as well being covered in Hubcaps for the Ornaments. And don't forget the Original music wrote to make many Christmas Classic songs relatible to Cars playing thruout the area. Christmas in Radiator Springs is really cool and i'm glad this was when we got to see it. I would really like to see Pixar make a Carstoon Short film about Christmas in Radiator Springs sometime.

    We found another Photopass Photographer taking pictures towards the town and mountain range and it became one of my favorite photos of the trip. This was the only photo we got of us and the town in the background as we never thought to do another one during the day. We also walked over to Maters Petting Zoo in front of his Junk yard and got our photo taken with a baby tractor.

    With 15 minutes left until the park officially closes at 8pm and 30 minutes until the start of World of Color I thought now would be a good time to head over to the viewing area so that we could get a good spot for the show. But as we were walking past Maters Junkyard Jamboree we noticed that they posted wait time was only 5 minutes. So we figured what the heck. We have enough time. Maters and Luigis rides both have a 32inch height limit and we knew Daniel could be cutting it close. We pulled him out to see if he was tall enough but he was still about an inch short. So we would have to riderswap on this ride as well.

    I couldn't really find any info regarding Riderswap on Mater or Luigis before our trip so I'll let you know how it works real quick. For this ride we got the riderswap card at the enterance to the attraction. Then the first person waits in the normal line and rides. When they are done the 2nd person riding will enter the ride using the riderswap card thru the Alternate Enterance. This enterance is for those guests who need assistance and bypasses the main line. Although this late at night it probably didn't make much of a difference but it would save a lot of time during the day.

    I would ride this first so I entered the main line and made my way thru the Junk Yard que which was extremely shortened do to nobody being in line. I wish I could have got a closer look but there are many junk and props scattered thruout the Junkyard that actually tie in to the Mater Tall Tales Carstoons. The story of the ride is that Mater is having a hoedown with Baby Tractors and you've been invited to join in on the dancing. Theres a large Jukebox set up that plays like a dozen different original songs all sung by Mater. Although this sounds like it could be annoying if your not a fan of Mater the songs were actually pretty fun and never got annoying. I only waited 1 rotation before I was sent out to board one of the vehicles.

    The ride is actually pretty simple. Each baby Tractor is pulling a trailer that you sit in. It then travels amoung 3 turn tables making the trailers whip out as it catches on of the turntables going the opposite direction. Frankly I was surpised at the kick this ride has. When it whips the trailer some of times it thru me pretty strongly to the other side of the trailer. I was laughing the whole time and had a great time on it. I can only imagine it being funner with another person and then you could play "corners" with them lol.

    When I got off the ride Kiera then took the Riderswap card and rode the attraction as well. She too waited only 1 rotation and then it was her turn to ride which was kind of fun to watch from the sideline. Daniel also seemed to like watching the tractors go round and round. Overall Maters is a great little ride and fits the area nicely. Its just too bad that if you've followed the DCA construction from the beginning you can see that many of the Cars Land budget cuts came at the cost of Maters Junkyard Jamboree. In the early concept art the ride seemed to be more of an outdoor dark ride as the tractors moved thru different scenes of the junkyard whipping you around corners. There was even suppose to be a full size Mater Animatronic. But those got whittled down to the simple ride we have now. Its still a good ride. It just could have been better.

    The park was now closed and we were leaving Radiator Springs for the day. So what are my thoughts on the land. Its amazing. Its very well done and the best i've seen from Disney in a long time. The Wizarding World in Orlando set a very high standard that I thought CarsLand would never come close to touching. However Carsland surpassed my expectations in nearly every form. Is it Harry Potter good? I don't think so. But it came alot closer then I thought it would. RSR is a very solid attraction for a park that desperatly needed it. Maters is a very fun and family friendly ride that people of all ages will enjoy and although we didn't ride Luigis today we would get the chance to later on in the week. The food locations were great as Flo's has a very fun atmosphere with good food and great views and the Cozy Cone offers many different unique snacks and drinks you won't find anywhere else in the resort. The themeing and scale are perfect and the rockwork is breathtaking. Honestly the only complaint I have with the land is the shops. They had the chance to make them very unique and sell specialty merchandise yet instead they filled them with the generic Disney and Cars stuff you can find everywhere inside and outside the resort. For such an amazing land I hope John Lassiter can pull the strings needed to brink in some unique merchandise later on.

    Although the park had officially closed for the day our night wasn't over yet. We made our way back to Paradise Pier so that we could watch tonights showing of World of Color. We pulled our fastpasses earlier this morning so we had spots in the Blue section. I didn't know how hard this would be to find but they had it very well marked. I also expected there to be a large stroller parking area so we were suprised when we were told to take the stroller into the area with us. The viewing area was very packed but we walked down to about the middle area. The view didn't seem too bad where we were at so we stayed in the walk area and had a curb behind us that we could stand up on. I don't know if we were suppose to be where we were as we were still in the walkway but getting to the show so late nobody else ever came down the walkway.

    Paradise Pier soon went dark and the Pre show for World of Color started. They have done preshows for a few movie releases but for Christmas time the preshow features the Christmas TV specials Prep and Landing. This was our first experiance of World of Color and our jaws dropped. It was incredible. We were in for quite the show. Just a heads up now though there is gonna be alot of pictures from World of Color. However there won't be alot of words to accompany them as I find it pretty hard to discribe shows lol.

    World of Color is a nighttime show designed specifically for California Adventure and as of right now there is no where else that you can the show. Think of the show like the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas but amplify it by 100. The show features Dancing fountains that can change between multipule different colors. But the fountains aren't all. The show also features Pyro, Laser, and fog effects. The lighting on Mickeys Fun Wheel is also used during the show. The highlight of the show is multipule Mist screens where Video is projected from some of the most classic and memorible moments from Disney and Pixar film history. All of which is syncronized to music.

    As the show officially started and the fountains came to life in hundreds of different colors the feeling you get is pretty amazing. We were just in Awe. As the show unfolded it was very obvious that Daniel loved the show. This probably made him the most excited he was for anything this entire trip as he would not stop laughing and clapping and bounching up and down on Kieras shoulders. He loved ever part of this show and it was one of those moments where seeing his excitment totally made the trip worth it.

    World of Color brings to life scenes from the movies in a way that you've never experianced. Each film segment had the show doing unique things from specific colors to strobe lights to even bubbles in the air. Disneyland also released some Ear hats called Glow with the Show that change color and interact with the show. Although i'm sure the experiance is much better when everyone in the crowd is wearing the hats.

    The bad thing about the show though is the viewing area. Its really crammed and its all standing room. Because of this it can make the show hard to view. Yes its our fault that we got to the viewing area late and were stuck towards the back. But when we first got to the area we had a perfect view of the Lagoon. The problem was once the show started parents started putting kids on there shoulders so they could see. Now I don't think thats bad itself as we even had Daniel on our shoulders. The problem I had was many of these kids that were on the shoulders were between 4-5 feet tall. I'm sorry but these kids are way to tall and really ubstructed the view for those behind them. We ended up moving back up the pathway ramp where we eventually found a better view that wasn't so blocked. My point is if you don't want to deal with blocked views make sure you arrive early. No matter what section your in.

    World of Color really unfolds all around you so watch in all directions. There were parts of the show that even took place on the California Screamin Roller Coaster and of course the lights of the Fun Wheel. I really enjoyed the show when the lasers were on and the Fire parts were really cool as well.

    Overall I was very impressed with World of Color and it is no contest the BEST nighttime theme park show that I have ever seen. The show is incredible in a way that I can't explain. When you think of it being a water fountain show it really doesn't sound all that great on paper. But it is something that you have to experiance to understand. Never has a show effected my emotions in the way World of Color did. It is truely special and magical and something to not be missed when going to the Disneyland Resort.

    With the show over and the park closed for the night we started to make our way back to the front of the park with the rest of the crowd. As we entered Buena Vista street we saw (and heard) the Disneyland fireworks start. It was actually kind of neat to see the fireworks over Buena Vista street as thats a location you don't typically think to watch the fireworks from.

    We decided to walk thru the Ellias and Company shop on the way out to see what merchandise the shop had. On each vacation we always purchase a Christmas Ornament and also a post card for each place we visit so we walked thru Ellias and Company to see what options we had. This store is the large entry shop that runs the entire side of Buena Vista Street. The inside is also richly detailed as it is athentically themed to be just like a 1920s Department Store. During the day this is also where you can meet Santa during the holidays. After looking around we exited the shop without purchasing anything and exited the park for the day.

    Although our park time was done for the day we still had the nearly mile long walk ahead of us back to our Hotel. We made a quick restroom stop in Downtown Disney and then started the walk back with a suprising amount of people also walking with us. Of course most of them though were going to the Mickey and Friends parking structure as they didn't want to wait for a tram so after passing the structure we were by ourselves the rest of the way to the hotel. When we reached the hotel we found that we made it back in time to stop by the pool. We only had 15 minutes so it wasn't enough time for a quick dip however there was enough time to just sit by the hot tub and soak our feet after a long day of walking in the parks. One thing we loved to do on some of our Orlando trips.

    We finally retired to our Hotel room where we promptly started getting Daniel and ourselves ready for bed. We thought this morning came early. Well tomorrow we would try being up and out the door earlier as tomorrow would not only be our full Disneyland day but its also the only day that we would be able to use our Magic Morning allowing us into Disneyland an hour before it opened. We looked forward to what the next day had in store for us.

  7. #22

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    Mar 2009
    Placentia, CA

    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    I loved your TR! You have a beautiful family & your little one is so cute!

    It was very interesting hearing the comparisons between Florida & California. One day we'll make it to WDW...

    Even being a So. Cal. local, I've never been to Universal during Christmas (its been about 15 years since we've been at all). We'll have to go next holiday season for sure! Thanks for the pictures and review.

    You'll have to come back during the summer to visit the beach! Laguna is beautiful too!

    Thanks for sharing : )

  8. #23

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    Aug 2008

    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 4, Part 1: Disneyland

    Our 2nd day at Disney was soon upon us and it came earlier then it did the previous day. Today would be the only morning that we could use our Extra Magic Hour at Disneyland that comes with any 3 day or higher parkhopper ticket. I was up at 6am to get ready for the day and Kiera wasn't far behind me. Extra Magic Hour would start at 8am and we wanted to be there right when it started. Of course Daniel had other plans for us. It figures that the day we needed to be out the door early was the day that he didn't want to wake up earlier. He even stayed asleep as we dressed him.

    With Daniel sleeping longer then we expected we didn't leave the hotel until 8:20am. Yes 20 minutes after we wanted to actually be in the park. We walked quickly though and got to the park probably the quickest we did out of any of the days we walked. The monorail passed us overhead today as we were walking behind Downtown Disney and Daniel seemed to like watching it go past.

    Soon we were at the park though and walking towards the turnstyles. Since the park wouldn't be officially opened for about another 20 minutes only a couple turn styles were open for those using the Extra Magic Hour. We walked thru the gates and took advantage of the lite crowds at the park at the moment and got our photos taken with the Main Street station.

    After the photos we entered a pretty empty Main Street. It seemed so odd seeing the park so empty since it hadn't opened yet. There were some characters out with some small lines to meet them but we decided to head further into the park to start our morning with getting some rides out of the way. Main street is much more enjoyable when its so empty.

    At the end of Main Street was where they were holding the rope to hold guests back that didn't have Magic Morning admission. For those who did though there were signs directing us where to go near the Tomorrowland Enterance. The CMs running the checkpoint asked us for a paper though that we should have got at turnstyles saying we were Extra Magic guests. But they gave us nothing. That was ok though. We just told them we didn't get a paper and all they needed to see was our tickets to verify they were valid for it and we were on our way.

    We walked passed Tomorrowland and walked to the parks Icon Sleeping Beauty Castle. And just like at the Main Street Station there was practically nobody waiting for the photopass photographer so we stopped again to get our pictures taken before the crowds decended on the park. If your going to the parks soon you'll notice that a section next to the Castle is walled off with construction going on. This is where the new Princess Fantasy Faire is being built and will be the place to meet the Princesses once its completed.

    When we were done with our photos we walked into Sleeping Beauty castle and entered Fantasyland. This is where we would be starting our day as none of the rides here use Fastpass and could get long waits later in the day. Entering Fantasyland you'll notice that the look of the area is completly different from its Florida version. You won't find the midevil style tents for the attraction enterances here. Instead you'll find a quant little European village. The facades are all very well done and very detailed. Seeing how well themed Disneylands Fantasyland is makes me sad for the Magic Kingdoms. Yes they just got the Fantasyland Expansion and that looks great. But they didn't fix the ugly old Fantasyland facades dispite this being the perfect time to do so. Plus Disneylands Fantasyland offers so much more then Floridas. Even with there new expansion. In the end Disneyland as the better version of the 2. Even after the Magic Kingdoms expansion.

    We parked the stroller and got in line for what is typically one of the longest waits in Fantasyland. That ride is Peter Pans Flight and dispite it being Extra Magic Hour the ride still had a 25 minute wait posted. We figured what the heck. We planned to ride it at some point so we got in line. Plus when we got in line we only had 5 minutes until the official park opening. So much for our Extra Magic Hour.

    After waiting over 20 minutes we were finally loading on to the Peter Pan ride. This ride was one of the originals that opened with the park and was very unique from other traditional dark rides as the track was above the riders and the ride vehicle was suspended from it to give the sensation that your flying. Unlike Florida the Disneyland version does not offer Fastpass so be prepared to wait if this is something you want to ride. We soon started our flight and we were soon flying over London and off to Neverland. Ironically this was one of the rides that Daniel got a little scared on. Especially during the London scene when you fly over the city. Once we got to neverland though he was fine and he liked seeing Captain Hook as i'm sure he recognized him from Jack and the Neverland Pirates. As with all the Fantasyland Dark Rides Peter Pan seems short but its still a pretty good ride. Compared to the Magic Kingdoms version I would say Disneylands is the better of the two. Not only is it the original but (dispite being short) it still felt longer and has an additional scene or two compared to the Magic Kingdoms. This is a ride worth seeing but its not something I consider a must see. I just don't understand the crazy lines this ride gets.

    When we finished Peter Pan we walked right next door to go on our next ride. This ride is also a Disneyland Classic and Opened with the park. Its also one that no longer exists in Florida and one that I hear many people missing there. This ride is Mr. Toads Wild Ride. This is a ride I loved as a kid dispite not really knowing what the story was lol. Now i'm glad that I get to share it with my son. As a child I just loved driving the car thru the building. But now that I understand the story its pretty funny. Basically what Mr. Toads Wild ride has taught me as an adult is to not Drink and Drive or else your gonna die and go to Hell. Yep that pretty much sums up the ride lol. Don't miss out on this especially if visiting from the east coast. Of course though as with all the Fantasyland Dark rides I wouldn't consider it an absolutly must see ride.

    After a quickstop by the Restrooms we continued on to our next attraction. The Casey Jr. Circus Train. This train ride is yet again a Disneyland Original and can't be found anywhere in Florida. It is part of small area of Fantasyland called Story Book Land. There are 2 ways that you can see Story Book Land and that is by seeing it from above on the Casey Jr. Train or you can get up close and personal with the miniature sets by going on the Storybook Land Canal boats. When we visited the resort back in 2008 we visited Storybook Land by going on the Canal Boats. So we figured this time we would switch it up by taking the train instead. Plus Daniel would probably like the train more. The wait time posted was only 10 minutes but it turned out to be more like 15 as we had to wait 2 trains before it was our turn. When I was a kid I loved to go in one of the cage cars but this time we just got one of the open cars and we were on our way. On the train you will loop around Storybook Land a few times and the views of the minilands are great. However you won't get any sort of story like you will on the boats. This ride is simple and something that kids really seem to enjoy. However its not something that you should go out of your way to see.

    Continueing on with the Fantasyland Dark rides we next came to Pinocchios Daring Journey. Although it may seem very familiar and similar to the other Dark rides in Fantasyland this ride wasn't built until 1983 as part of the New Fantasyland. However it is a ride that you will not see in Orlando so it may be worth checking out once. We practically walked right on to the ride and were on our way. The ride is a very simple dark ride that basically retells the movie. So it isn't anything too exciting. It continues the darker tone that many of the Fantasyland Dark Rides have and it was pretty clear that Daniel didn't care for it. Again these simple dark rides aren't really something thats a must see if your pressed for time or dealing with heavy crowds.

    As you've probably guessed next up was yet again another Fantasyland Dark Ride. This time it would be Snow Whites Scary Adventure. Although this ride recently got removed in Florida it is still going strong in Disneyland. However just like Pinocchio there was no wait in line for this ride. Snow White, Peter Pan, and even Mr. Toad were all designed in a way to tell you the story as if you were really the main character. When the rides first opened you didn't see Snow White or Peter Pan anywhere in the ride because you were them. However I guess this confused a lot of people so as the rides got minor updates those characters were added in to the ride. Which tends to make the ride a mess at times. This is the case with Snow White as there are times when the ride is kind of confusing with whats going on. Oh and the ending has to possibly be the worst ride ending of all time. Yeah the Little Mermaids ending is pretty bad over in DCA but at least you get to see a happy ending. Snow White ends so ubruptly that you'll scratch your head wondering what just happened. Its kind of a shock that the ride is over at that point. I'm glad we got to ride Snow White in the Magic Kingdom before it was removed because when comparing the 2 the Magic Kingdom version was diffenitly the better of the two. I would hope that maybe the Disneyland version could see some plusing by using some of the removed peices from Florida. Although the facade in Disneyland is much better then the Magic Kingdoms was. And don't forget to watch the window for the Evil Queen to make an apperance looming over Fantasyland.

    With most of the Fantasyland Rides done I told Kiera that it was time for us to go on an Adult ride. Yes many of the Fantasyland rides are Cute and Charming but that still doesn't change the fact that most of them are kiddie rides. We had been in the park for nearly 1 1/2 hours and it was time for a thrill. And we wouldn't even have to leave Fantasyland to find it. We loaded Daniel back into the stroller and then started to make our way over to the Matterhorn Bobsleds.

    As we were walking to the Matterhorn though we came across Alice and the Mad Hatter so we stopped to see how Daniel like them. They were so great with Daniel although he didn't quite know what to think of them. Every now and then he smiled but it was cute that they got down to his level so that he could see them up close and were really great with him. It was kind of funny though that they kept telling him happy birthday because of the shirt he was wearing. Yes we got him that shirt for his Mickey Mouse Birthday Party he had back in September. We just figured it would also be fun for him to wear it in the park.

    For the first part of Last year the Matterhorn underwent a fairly substantial Referbishment. It was closed for 6 months and in that time Effects and Scenes were touched up, the Mountain was completly repainted from head to toe, and new Bobsleds were added to the track. Gone are the days of cuddling that special someone in front of you on the Matterhorn. Now each person has there own indvidule seat. Because of these new seats the Height Requirement is also higher now then it was before. The mountain itself looks better then ever. Gone is the mostly white look and now you can see dark rock underneath the snow caps. The paint job gives the mountain a much more realistic look. Unfortunatly one of the things they didn't do with this Referb was do a completly track replacement like they are currently doing on Big Thunder Mountain and they did with Space Mountain back in 2004.

    So how did this Referb turn out as far as the ride experiance go? Well I would soon find out. I planned to ride the ride using the newly added Single Rider line but with the Mountain only having a 10 minute posted wait the Single Rider Line was closed at the time. The wait wasn't bad though so we asked for a Rider Swap Card that they gave us right at the enterance to the ride and I entered the line to ride the Fantasyland side of the Ride. In almost no time I was climbing into the bobsled and started the ascent up the mountain. The Matterhorn truely is a great ride. One of Walt Disneys classics that he himself got to go on. It also revolutionized Roller Coasters as we know them today as it was the first Steel Tubular coaster to exist. As I started to descend down the mountain you will run in and out of caves and even come across the Abominal Snowman which dispite being very simple actually works and comes across more scary then the Disco Yeti at the Animal Kingdoms Expedition Everest. I mentioned the fact that the track wasn't replaced and thats really the only negative I can give the Matterhorn as it makes for a pretty rough ride. Couple that with the fact that the new Bobsled seats are just plastic with no cushioning and it can get rough. Although dispite it being a fairly rough ride I would say its still much better then the Magic Kingdoms Space Mountain track as that ride is easily the roughest thing i've ever been on. Overall I am still impressed with Matterhorn and consider it a Do Not Miss attraction. Its a ride I diffenitly prefer to the Magic Kingdoms Space Mountain (which has a similar track layout as it was suppose to be the Magic Kingdoms Indoor Matterhorn) But I think I like Expedition Everest (which is like a modern day Matterhorn) more. Yes the Yeti is broken but the thrill seems higher, the backwards portion is great, and the ride is pretty smooth. Still don't miss out on the Matterhorn when at Disneyland.

    After my ride on the Mountain it was now Kieras turn. She took the Rider Swap Card and entered the ride near where the Single Rider enterance is. While she rode I decided to run back to Toon Town with Daniel and pull some Fastpasses for Roger Rabbit to save us waiting in that line later in the day. We ran back to Toon Town quickly and got to the Fastpass Machines only to find that they hadn't been turned on yet for the day. I know that Roger Rabbit is disconnected from the Fastpass system so I figured that when the park is slow they must not offer Fastpass for the ride. So we quickly walked back to the Matterhorn with no Fastpasses and timed it just right as Kiera finished her ride right as we returned.

    Located next to the Matterhorn is the final Fantasyland Dark Ride that we had to go on. Again this ride is not one that you will find at the Magic Kingdom or anywhere in Walt Disney World. Its also my favorite out of all the Fantasyland Dark Rides. This ride is Alice in Wonderland. The posted wait was 15 minutes so we got in line and waited it out. We soon boarded our Catapiller and were on our way. As with the other Dark Rides You are simulating Alice but where it seemed confusing on other rides it actually works here as Alice is a much longer ride then all of the other Fantasyland Dark Rides. Daniel even liked this ride as its much more colorful then the others. The outdoor section of this ride is also unique as you exit the building and then descend down outside above the que area. Although do to OSHA regulations the outdoor section looks horrible right now as addtional plateforms, handrails, and tarps surround the area until a permanant fix can be done. Although this is another retelling of the movie rides it is easily my favorite Fantasyland Dark Ride and one I wouldn't miss when i'm at the park.

    Right next to the Alice in Wonderland ride is the Mad Tea Party Teacups. This ride is also located at the Magic Kingdom however unlike there the Teacups in Disneyland are out in the open. They are not covered which makes the ride look much better in California. The wait was posted at 10 minutes but we literally walked right on to the ride and found a teacup. When we rode this in Florida Daniel was asleep during it so we were intersted to see how he liked it. When the ride started we spun the cup very slowly not only for Daniels sake but also for ours as we just can't seem to handle the fast spinning anymore. Daniel really enjoyed the ride and loved looking at the other teacups as we went past. So which ride is better? Well this is something you can't really base on the ride itself since both Teacup rides give you the same sensation. So it basically comes down to astetics. In which case I think Disneylands Teacups being out in the Open look much better then the Magic Kingdoms. Especially after nightfall.

    With most of Fantasyland completed we started to make our way back towards Toon Town and our final Fantsyland ride. But first we made a stop by the restrooms again that are located next to the Fantasyland Theater. For years the Fantasyland Theater has been used for the Princess Fantasy Faire but with there new area being constructed next to the Castle the Old area is being converted back to house a theater production this summer staring Mickey Mouse. The Theater is all walled off but you can still make out some of the construction going on.

    Our Final Fantasyland ride we planned to go on is "Its a Small World". Yes this ride is also at the Magic Kingdom but its so much larger and more grand in Disneyland. And for the Christmas Holidays the ride recieves a Holiday Overlay as the whole ride inside and out is decked out for Christmas. Instead of the Fascade inside a Fascade that you'll find in Florida the Fascade in Disneyland is huge and amazing. And its even better at night during the Holidays.

    We waited only about 10 minutes before we were boarding the ride and starting the Happiest cruise around the world. You will hear the regular "its a small world after all" song upon entering the building. But you will soon notice other songs as well as for the Holiday overlay 2 christmas songs are also mixed in making the ride much more tolerable. Each country or scene is done up with Holiday decore to resemble what it would look like in that part of the world.

    And another thing unique about Disneylands version of the ride is that it features figures of popular Disney Characters spread thruout the ride in there respective countries. I know that this was something that may Disney fans seem to hate but I for one really like these addtional figures as I think it adds to the atmosphere and excitment when you find them. Some are pretty well hidden and blend perfectly into there surroundings. They really don't stand out like some people may lead you to believe. Being the Original version the Disneyland ride is also much longer then the Magic Kingdoms and has additional scenes. Daniel really enjoyed the ride clapping to the music and stareing and pointing at the different figures.

    If you can't tell already I prefer the Disneyland version much more then the Magic Kingdoms version of the ride. Usually i'm able to find something I like a little more between the 2 versions but not here. Nothing about the Magic Kingdoms ride is better then Disneylands. So here Disneyland wins by a landslide for having the better of the two. Small World is a Disney classic that although can be annoying at times shouldn't be missed when visiting a Disneyland style park.

    We have had a very busy and fast paced morning so far. In just over 3 hours we had completed the majority of the Fantasyland rides with the exception of Dumbo, King Aurthers Carosuel, and the Storybook Land Canal boats. All things that weren't a high priority for us. We were now not only done with Fantasyland for the day. But also for the rest of our trip.

  9. #24

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 4, Part 2: Disneyland

    The next land we entered after finishing Fantasyland was Mickey's Toontown. I still won't forget seeing the Toontown commercials on TV as a Child back in 1993. This new land looked so much fun and amazing. It had 3 rides, and all of the characters houses including a huge bounce house for Goofy, Playground boat for Donald, and a huge ball pit and slides for Chip and Dales Tree House. It looked like so much fun. In 95 I finally got to go to Disneyland and experiance Toontown for myself. It was all I hoped for. Except for one thing. By this point I was too big to do any of the play houses. No bounce house (which I was most excited for) for me. Still the area was fun and unique and after that trip I had a new favorite traditional style dark ride in Roger Rabbits Toon Car Spin.

    Unfotunatly in that time since the 90's Toon Town has become a shadow of its former self. Toon Town turned out to be a huge Liablity issue for Disney so they came in and striped the area of much of its fun in the name of safety. The Bounce House no longer bounces. The Tree House is practically closed down, The Jolley Trolley is perminantly parked and only avalible for photo ops. It also doesn't help that some of the franchises in Toon Town are only relevent to those of us who were kids in the 90's. Kids today don't know who Gadget is from Rescue Rangers who has a Roller Coaster in the land. And with all the Legal issues that surround Roger Rabbit many kids don't know who he is ether. Luckly Mickey and the Gang is back in the public eye thanks to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show. Dispite its apparent issues though Toon Town is a greatly themed land that shouldn't be missed. Toon Town is probably one of the most picturisc of all the lands and there are many photo ops you won't want to miss out on. It even gets decorated for Christmas. Although it has had many decorations imported in from the now defunct Toon Town Fair from WDW and these decorations are worse then the old ones (the trees for example).

    Toon Town is worth checking out even if you just browse thru the area. I really hope Disney sees fit to do a referbishment on the area and even expand it sometime in the future. Unlike Florida it is not bad enough to remove all together. The area still looks great and is alot of fun. it just needs more to do. Roger Rabbit is solid but the West side of the area could see an additional ride. I think a Mickey Mouse themed dark ride could go very well if they could find the room. I think removing the Go-Coaster and some how importing Mickeys Philharmagic from the Magic Kingdom would work in Toon Town as well. The area just needs a little help.

    We parked the stroller and headed towards the first Toon Town attraction. Roger Rabbits Toon Car Spin. This was the flagship attraction of the land when it opened and still one of the best rides in the park. Plus Disneyland is the only place in America where you can go on the ride. I tried getting a fastpass earlier for the ride but at the time the fastpass machines were closed. They were up and running now though but that wouldn't be a big deal as the ride only had a 10 minute wait posted. Toon Town was somewhat desgined around the Toon Town you see in the Roger Rabbit film and this ride will take you to the more Dark Side you don't see out front of Toon Town. The que is one of the most elabratly themed ques in the whole resort as you make your way thru dark alleys and villianous warehouses before finally boarding your cab. The Villans from the film are back and are looking to get even with Roger Rabbit by kidnapping his wife Jessica Rabbit and trying to kill him. Your along for the wacky ride as he trys to save her. The unique thing about this ride is unlike your traditional dark rides where the vehicle stays in one position you can spin the Cab around like a tea cup. Which makes the ride extremely fun. Although since the spinning mechanisim is the steering wheel it makes it more difficult to spin then the teacups are. The ride doesn't have a height limit but this ride requires all riders to sit on there own. No lap riders. Daniel was just fine to sit between Kiera and I. This ride is great and one not to be missed in my opinion. But I may be biased as it is my favorite traditional dark ride in the park.

    It was after noon by this point in the day and we were starting to get hungry. But we wanted to finish Toon Town first so we wouldn't have to come back to this area of the park later in the day. We looked around the Town and got some photos with the Gags set up around the area. Daniel really liked the Fireworks factory and he pushed the bar down himself and got a big kick out of the sound effects. We then walked across the town to the neighborhood are where other then the Go-Coaster the only other things to do now is see Mickey and Minnie in there houses. We didn't care to see Minnie in her house but it has become somewhat of a tradition to see Mickey in his house at Disneyland.

    The wait time posted outside Mickey's House was posted as 15 minutes which we figured wasn't that bad. Daniel really enjoyed seeing Mickey's house and loved playing on the furnature and seeing parts of the house as we made our way thru it. When we "exited" the house into the back yard we finally meet the end of the line. If you havn't been thru this Mickey Meet and Greet I have to say that this is probably the most detailed que that isn't for a ride. Between the House and Yard and Barn there is so many little details and interactive gags all over the place. Although we met the end of the line we still had a wait ahead of us. We slowly moved thru the barn before coming to the screening room where the line came to a dead stop for over 10 minutes. Knowing how the Mickey Meet and Greet is set up with 3 seperate Meeting rooms I didn't think you ever stopped. But I guess they must have only been using 1 of the 3 rooms today. By the time we were finally escorted in to the dressing room to meet Mickey we had waited over 30 minutes.

    Daniel loves Mickey Mouse. Between all his toys or plushes to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Show that he watches over and over again we figured he would be so excited to see Mickey in person. Plus the interactions Daniel had with Mickey in Orlando were some of the cutest Characters meets we did as Daniel really loved seeing Mickey. So we figured we would see a repeat of that. When it was out turn to finally meet Mickey, Kiera set Daniel down to see if he would run up to Mickey. Upon seeing Mickey Daniel did start running towards him with a big smile on his face. However about half way to Mickey he stopped dead in his tracks and the big smile quickly turned to a look of Terror as he turned around and ran back towards Kiera in Tears. He was afraid of Mickey. Even when we got our picture taken you can see that he was not Its funny to look back on now but kind of sad too that he was so scared to see somebody he loves so much. It was clear to us now that he would not have the same excited Character interactions like he did in Florida.

    Having finally meet Mickey and with our stomachs getting very hungry we decided that we were now done with Toon Town for the day and even for the trip. We saw all that we wanted to see and would now be on our way to the next destination. Which would hopefully include somewhere with food.

    Where we were going was an area of the park where Submarines take you deep below the ocean, Ships fly you deep in to space, and Monorails travel overhead. We were heading to one of my favorite areas of the park. Tomorrowland. We passed back thru Fantasyland and around the Matterhorn and then walked passed the Sub lagoon officially entering the land.

    We were of course hungry and ready for lunch so where would we head first? Well we made our way towards the Monorail. Unlike Walt Disney World where the Monorail is used strictly as a transportation method outside the Magic Kingdom, in Disneyland the Monorail is still considered a ride. But although its is technically a ride it does leave the park and even has a stop located in Downtown Disney. If you havn't guessed yet we decided to leave Disneyland and get lunch in Downtown Disney instead.

    As we started to walk up the ramp towards the Monorail loading plateform you walk past the backside of the Autopia attraction. I loved the Autopia as a child as you got to drive a car. As an adult though its pretty boring and can get a long wait so needless to say we skipped it on this trip. Plus Daniel wasn't tall enough for it anyways. One thing for sure is dispite its issues Disneylands Autopia looks much better then the Magic Kingdoms Tomorrowland Raceway.

    About halfway up the Ramp to the Monorail I remember something I needed to do before leaving Disneyland for lunch. I wanted to grab some Fastpasses for Star Tours. Unlike WDW, Disneyland still doesn't enforce Fastpass Return times. So as long as you have a Fastpass you can use it anytime of the day after the active time comes avalible. Knowing the Fastpasses would be active by the time we returned to the park it would end up saving us time later by grabbing the Fastpasses now. So Kiera and Daniel waited on the ramp as I quickly ran thru Tomorrowland to the Star Tours Fastpass machines and then I quickly ran back and meet back up with them.

    Although I was fast I wasn't fast enough and we barely missed one of the Monorails and had to wait an additional 10 minutes for another Monorail to come. I took the time to take some photos from this unique vantage point. From the Monorail plateform you have a great view of the Sub Lagoon and the Matterhorn making for some great pictures. Soon though the next Monorail arrived and we went to board it. One thing that wasn't posted anywhere that we noticed though was that all strollers must be folded up when boarding the Monorail so keep that in mind as we struggled to get it folded quickly so we didn't miss this Monorail too.

    The trip from Tomorrowland to Downtown Disney is a fairly short trip but still offers some great view of the parks below. Upon leaving the Tomorrowland station you will actually leave the park and travel outside the berm along Harbor Drive before turning and entering the Disney California Adventure Park. The Monorail passes thru 3 lands in DCA starting in Hollywoodland passing behind the Monsters Inc. Ride Facade, then passes thru the middle of Buena Vista Street (ruining the amazing themeing of the entry land for a moment as the futuristic looking Monorail goes past), then on thru Condor Flats in front of the Soarin' Over California Hanger. Just like in WDW the Monorail in Disneyland then passes thru 1 of its 3 hotels the Grand Californian Resort. However unlike in WDW where the Monorail really enters the interior space of the Contemporary its all outdoor space in the middle of the resort that the monorail goes thru. You make a turn again and then you pass over Downtown Disney and enter the Downtown Disney station. This portion of the ride is fairly short and the station is located a short walk from where we wanted to be.

    The place we wanted to eat at for Lunch was a location that we have become very familiar with during our Florida trips. One month earlier Earl of Sandwich finally opened up a location at the Disneyland Resort and we couldn't be more happier. If you had read my past reports you know that we love Earl of Sandwich and visit it multipule times during our Florida trips. EOS is located very close to the Disneyland Hotel and is short walk from the Monorail. As we walked past the Rain Forest Cafe they had a little show taking place outside where they were showing some different Animals to the people watching.

    Earl of Sandwich wasn't too badly packed at this time for still being so new. We waited about 5 minutes before it was turn to order and we waited inside the entire time. For Lunch today I got the sandwich that has become my favorite the full Montagu and Kiera got the Earl's Club. To go along with our Sandwichs we also got a bag of chips to share and decided to give there Holiday Peppermint Brownie to try. If you have been to the WDW location you will likely notice how incredibly much smaller the California location is compared to Floridas. Infact there is very little indoor seating in California. 90% of the tables are located outside. But don't worry the eating area is covered with heat vents blowing during the winter and fans to keep it cool during the summer. It was also fun to watch the happenings of Downtown Disney go on right outside your table. The food as always was amazing and I highly recommend making a stop by Earl of Sandwich no matter what Disney Resort you go to.

    After lunch we made our way back to the Monorail station where once again you will need to not only give them your park ticket but also show your ID with it. We then ran up the stairs as there was a Monorail currently in the station and we didn't want to wait for the next one. Luckly we made it before it left. The Ride back to the Tomorrowland station is longer and a bit more exciting as the Monorail winds its way thru the area located above the Autopia tracks and the defunct People Move/Rocket Rods tracks (which look to be in an even sadder state in this area with all the fallen and broken tree branches all over them. You'll circle above the Sub Lagoon and pass by Fantasyland and the Matterhorn before arriving in the Tomorrowland Station. Beware that there is not a ramp down like there was going up so you have to take the stairs or elevator. The Monorail is an odd "ride" that I wouldn't say is a must see at Disneyland. But its a great way to exit the park for a quick lunch in Downtown Disney. The Monorails are also pretty cool right now as to promote Carsland over at DCA the Monorails have eyes on there windshields and also a mouth as if they were right out of that world. I think it looks great and much less intrusive then the wraps the WDW monorails have been getting for promotions.

    Located directly under the Monorail Station is the Que and boarding area for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. This classic attraction returned to Disneyland 5 years ago with a Finding Nemo overlay with the film characters replacing the original ride. The wait posted was only 15 minutes so we decided to get in line.

    Or should I say Kiera and Daniel got in line. Since our Star Tours Fastpasses were now avalible for use that ment that we could now get more fastpasses. So while Kiera got in Line for the Subs I quickly ran across Tomorrowland again but this time I was heading to Space Mountain. I figured that since the Nemo Subs are a longer ride we could time it just right to use the Fast Passes. So I pulled 2 fastpasses that were 45 minutes out for Space Mountain and then ran back and meet Kiera in line for the Subs.

    The wait for the Subs was more like 20 minutes but we were soon boarding the Sub and beginning our Journey under the Sea. The Nemo Sub overlay was installed at around the same time that Nemo took over the Seas pavillion in Epcot. Because the rides use similar tech in the form of the characters being projected onto clear screens to make it appear as if they are really swimming in the water. Because of this the rides pretty much follow the exact same story as Nemo is lost again and the Film characters are trying to find him. Even many of the screen scenes are the same projections. Although the story is delevered completly differently where as the Nemo ride in Epcot uses the run of the meal Omni Mover system the Nemo subs are unique in the fact that you are inside a REAL submarine really under the water level.

    I'll just say it now that the Nemo Subs are significantly better then there Omni Mover cousin in Florida. The ride is longer and the story seems to make more sense compared to the condensed version at Epcot. Plus your experiancing the ride in a way that you can no where else on Earth. The Nemo subs get a lot of heat. I actually really enjoy the ride though. Yeah I loved the original too but frankly I don't think the Original version would hold up very well to todays standards. Yes they could have come up with a more original story instead of Nemo being lost again. However i'm glad that we have the Subs back again. I'd much rather have the Nemo subs then no subs. Although Nemo may not be a ride I would recommend to go on every time you go its one you must see if its your first time. I'm sure it will become a regular ride though for us as this ride was one of Daniels favorites of the whole trip. Just be prepared to wait as the ride has a low capacity and is very slow loading.

    We couldn't have timed it any better as within 2 minutes of being done with Nemo our Space Mountain Fastpasses became avalible for use. So now we had a choice. Do we use the Star Tours Fastpasses or the Space Mountain Fastpasses? We decided to work backwards out so we started moving towards the enterance to Space Mountain. Knowing this was a ride we would likely want to ride again later we used our Fastpass/Rider Swap combo that we learned in Florida for the first time on this trip. Since I pulled 2 Fastpasses that basically means that we could also get 2 Rider Swap cards. As we walked up to the enterance I asked for a Rider Swap card but Space Mountain is one of those rides where you exchange one of the wait time lanyards for the Rider Swap card before boarding the ride. So into the Fastpass line I went and completly bypassed the outdoor que area and went right indoors where I didn't even find the line until I was in the boarding room. The que itself looks much better then Orlandos dispite there more recent update. There video games and Interactive que still isn't enough to make it not feel like the 70's. Disneylands que has aged much better and looks much more modern. It took almost 10 minutes to round the room down to the load plateform where I got the Rider Swap before being directed to the row.

    Space Mountain differs quite a bit from its Florida cousin. Unlike the Magic Kingdom version there is only 1 track instead of 2 making the size of the building much smaller in Disneyland. But don't let size fool you because the Disneyland version is better then the Magic Kingdoms in practically every way. Remember that the Magic Kingdoms Space Mountain was designed to be somewhat of an indoor Matterhorn so the attraction seems to have more in common with that then it does with Disneylands Space Mountain. In Florida seating is arranged single file like that Materhorn where in California you sit Side by Side more like a traditional roller coaster. It also has more cars (or rockets) in the train then they do in Florida. The lift hill is much more exciting and better themed as you ascent to start your ride in space. Disneylands Space Mountain has onboard audio and a much better sound track then the random music and sound effects you'll occasionally pass in Florida. While flying thru Space you'll notice it much darker with more stars giving you the feeling as if you are really flying thru space as you really can not see when the turns and dips are coming. But the best part of all. Is unlike in Florida the ride track is VERY smooth. You'll feel like your gliding thru Space on your adventure instead of wishing your ride was over like Florida. There track is rediculously rough. I have never had a rougher ride then on Space Mountain in the Magic Kingdom. The ride isn't even enjoyable in Florida because of how rough it is. So glad that Disneylands newer track doesn't suffer from these problems and offers an extremely fun and incredible ride. Put this one on your absolute Do Not Miss list and enjoy a thrilling ride thru space that doesn't rattle your brain.

    As I exited the ride I stopped to see my picture from the ride and decided to load it to our Photopass+ Card. Kiera and Daniel were waiting for me at the rides exit as Kiera was trying to get Daniel to take a nap. It was now her turn to ride so we walked back over to the rides enterance and once again got another Rider Swap card for a later ride. Kiera then entered the Fastpass line with time card in hand and Daniel and I returned to where the rides Exit is located. He was so tired though that he had already passed out for a nap before we even got back to where we would wait. I kinda wish he hadn't fallen asleep as located directly across from us in the Starcade was the Wreck it Ralph meet and greet with Ralph and Vanillaphe from the movie. The line was only a 15 minute wait which would probably work perfect for Kieras ride but I didn't bother with Daniel being asleep. Kiera soon returned from her ride and also enjoyed it significantly more then the Orlando version.

  10. #25

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 4, Part 3: Disneyland

    With Daniel asleep and Kiera finishing her ride on Space Mountain we took advantage of Daniel sleeping and went to another ride that we would have to Rider Swap on. And it so happend that the ride we'd be going to was a short walk away. And we already have Fastpasses for it. We were heading to Star Tours.

    I would be going first and once again we asked for a Rider Swap card in the event that we'd get to ride again later. Here at Star Tours we got the pass right at the ride enterance. I entered the ride and once indoors you will find the que to be pretty much indentical to the version at Disney's Hollywood Studios. If you may recall We rode this ride earlier this year in Orlando. I was very excited for it as the ride reopened last year after a referbishment and major update. The ride now features randomized locations making your ride different each time you go on it. The old version of the ride was great. But the new version is even better. Especially if your a Star Wars fan like myself. In fact I enjoyed the ride so much that it took the #1 spot as my favorite Simulator ride.

    The wait was short but it still took longer to load then the ride does in Orlando. Thats because in Orlando the ride utilizes 6 simulators where in Disneyland there are only 4 simulators so be prepared for a longer wait. Soon though I was directed to my terminal and boarded our Starspeeder. As or StarSpeeder took off we were stopped by Darth Vader as the Empire was looking for a Rebel spy onboard. Luckly we were able to blast away though and found ourselves on Hoth as the Rebel Allliance was in battle with the Empire. We narrowly escaped and jump back to space where we got a holigraphic message from Yoda informing us to safely delever the Rebel Spy. We jump to lightspeed again to be confronted by not only Bobba Fett but also the Death Star as we engage in battle above Geonosis. Again we made it out alive though and found refuge on a Rebel starship where our ride came to an end.

    The ride was great once again although the only part of this ride I had never experianced before was the Geonosis battle. I love the randomness of the ride as it really adds to the repeat value of the ride. I think its the only Simulator that I could go on multipule times in the same day. The 3d on the ride looks amazing as it adds depth to the ride instead of making things pop out at you. Yes the ride footage and simulator movments are the same as the Hollywood Studios version. So which version is better? Well theres no doubt that Hollywood Studios version has the better facade with the Endor set and the full size AT-AT. However the "movie set" theme doesn't work well in Florida dispite how amazing it looks. You walk thru Endor, find yourself in a spaceport, and then exit in a Tantooene shop? The full story works better in Disneyland as dispite the facade not being as good, you can believe your walking into a Tomorrowland space port. Then you exit into the more generic space portisc Startraders store. For the Overall package I think it works better at Disneyland. However most Star Wars fans will prefer the Hollywood Studios set up.

    After my ride I found Kiera and Daniel and Kiera entered the Star Tours to take her ride to a Galaxy Far, Far away. Daniel was still asleep so I took a walk around Tomorrowland while Kiera rode. For being a land of the same name the Magic Kingdoms Tomorrowland couldn't be more different then Disneylands. Both try to be futuristic and sci-fi themed but thats where simularities end. The only thing the 2 have in common (other then 2 ride) is both are in desperate need of revamps. Both Tomorrowlands are in very rough shape. Magic Kingdoms seems to be invaded by Cartoon Characters where Disneylands is a jumbled mess. I never got to experiance the actual Tomorrowland 98' remodel that Disneyland got but its easy to see why that remodel failed so badly. Gold paint was thrown everywhere even on Space Mountain, The new "thrill ride" Rocket Rods was closed within 3 years, The Rocket Jets were replaced by something called and Observitron while the spinner was placed on ground level blocking the entryway, and it was all done on the cheap. Although the area has been repainted a much nicer Silver and Blue (with little gold left). But the area still is an inconsistant mess. Autopia isn't futuristic, Why is there a Toy shooter game, Theres talking fish in the Lagoon, and don't even get me started on Innoventions. Still dispite its weaknesses I still really like the land. I do think it looks pretty decent and I love it at night with all the neon lights. I also prefer the look and feel of Disneylands Tomorrowland more then the Magic Kingdoms. I feel in Florida that I could skip everything in Tomorrowland but I don't feel that way in California. The area needs work no doubt but its still probably my favorite area in Disneyland. Something needs to be done quick though as its so depressing seeing satalites on the load plateform and the empty people move tracks running everywhere. Please Disney fix Tomorrowland. And for reals this time.

    While Kiera finished her ride I checked out the StarTraders store until she was done. The store was very packed especially around the build your own Lightsaber area as this is the only store in Disneyland where you can build one. When Kiera was done though we were done completly with Tomorrowland so we exited towards the hub. We would be continuing with our Journey to the opposite side of the parking to the parks Frontierland Section.

    As with Adventureland, Disneylands Frontierland will seem significantly smaller then the Magic Kingdoms version. And you wouldn't be wrong. Frontierland is very small. Almost a blink and you miss it type area. But thats because the area is filled with waisted space. In addition to the large footprint that Big Thunder Mountain uses theres also a large space used by the Big Thunder Ranch and Festival Area at the back of the land that isn't even open much of the year. Frontierland is prime for expansion if they ever choose to do so as its another land that could use it. Even though Adventureland is small it seems larger then Frontierland. This is another case where the larger more elabrite version of Frontierland wins out in the Magic Kingdom compared to Disneyland.

    There is a reason though why we came to Frontierland at this time. Daniel still hadn't waken up from his nap so we figued we would continue with doing rides he couldn't go on anyways. So we were heading for Big Thunder Mountain. A ride which if you have read my reviews may recall a ride I call my Cursed attraction. Thats because the ride always seems to be closed when we visit the parks. It was closed in 2008 when we came to Disneyland, and the Magic Kingdoms version was closed when we went earlier in 2012. Infact we barely made it this time as 3 weeks later the ride closed for a lengthy 10 month rehab.

    I was very excited to go on Big Thunder Mountain. It was one that I loved as a kid and I had not been on the ride for close to 18 years. I couldn't even really remember it. We didn't pull Fastpasses for the ride because we didn't need to. When we got to the ride it only had a 10 minute wait posted so I just entered the standby line while Kiera would wait with the sleeping Daniel. We asked about Rider Swap and was told it was a pass we would get before boarding. The Que for the ride is something I forgot and is pretty cool as it takes you to the center of the mountain area where an old town is on one side and mining equipment and even dinosaur bones are all around you as the train passes on by. At the Top of the stairs is where your suppose to get the Rider Swap Card. But I didn't realize it and forgot to get it before boarding.

    Our Runaway Train left the station and we were on our way into the mountain. This ride has to be the one that suprised me most on this trip. Not only did I forget all of the caverns you go in but also all of the animal animatronics. And the ride is long too. You go up and down and around the mountain then back up and do it again dipping thru caves and thru rivers and its so much fun. Dispite it being a family ride it delevers quite the thrill. I even remembered to do the "Goat Trick" which gives a little more thrill on the helex after the lift hill. I forgot what I was missing with not riding this in so long. Its one of Disney's best rides and one that should not be missed. Sorry but I unfotuantly won't be able to compare the Disneyland version of the ride to the Magic Kingdoms since it was closed when we went 7 months ago. I had a huge smile on my face as I exited the ride and returned to Kiera and Daniel who was now awake.

    Luckly the Standby line still had a short wait so dispite forgeting to get the Rider Swap card she wouldn't have to wait long. Daniel didn't want to be in his stroller anymore by this point so he was out and able to run around for a minute while we waited for Kiera to ride. We walked up Big Thunder Trail towards the exit of Thunder Mountain to finish waiting for Kiera and when she returned after her ride we continued down the trail towards Big Thunder Ranch.

    For many years During the Holidays Big Thunder Ranch has become Santas Reindeer Roundup. The ranch recieves a Christmas Overlay where you could meet Santa and also some of his Reindeer too. Well that is of a thing of the past as this year the area expanded into the Jingle, Jangle, Jamboree. As with many other "parties" thruout the year the back of the Ranch is opened up into the old Festival of Fools area. Don't worry though all of the old decorations are still here too. Unfotunatly Santas Reindeer are no longer making the trip down and won't be seen anymore.

    The Festival area is pretty big and is where all of the Christmas activities are taking place. There is a stage where Bill Hill and the Hillbillies are playing during the holiday season. Theres also a food stand set up selling seasonally themed treats and snacks as well as many different Christmas themed games and Craft booths set up for the kids.

    This is one of the areas of the park where Mickey and the Gang are located and I believe the only place in Disneyland that you will see them in there Christmas attire. The first Character we saw in here was Minnie so we got in line to see her. She had a Photopass photographer with her but when it was finally our turn Daniel was not happy to see her at all. He started crying and pulling away from her and didn't want anything to do with it. Again quite the difference from Florida 7 months earlier.

    Santa use to meet and greet in a small Cabin thats part of the ranch. Now though he has a larger meet area in the Festival area. Daniel needed a Diaper change so while Kiera went and did that I went and got in line for Santa. The line didn't look to be too long but I would end up being very wrong. This line was one of the longest waits of the day as we waited about a 1/2 hour. The line moved so slow as many kids (or should I say parents) would rather there kids see Santa one at a time instead of as a family. After waiting it out though we finally got our turn with Santa. Daniel was afraid at first but was slowly warming up to Santa once he offered him a Candy Cane. We managed to get a few cute photos before Daniel was done with him again. I couldn't imagine coming to Disneyland during Christmas and not stopping to see Santa.

    After we finished seeing Santa we saw that Goofy was also out now and was dressed up as Santa too. So we stopped to see him. Suprisingly Daniel didn't have a freak out this time seeing a character. Although he wasn't excited ether. He was just kind of whatever about it lol. We also stopped quickly and saw Mrs. Claus too who Daniel did actually like. Probably cause she would talk to him and be sweet.

    We spent over an hour at the Jingle, Jangle, Jamboree and watched the sky's turn dark while we were in there. Having finished all we wanted to do we walked back into the Frontierland and made our way towards another attraction. We still had not gone on the Haunted Mansion so that was our next planned attraction. However when we arrived at the Mansion we were greated by some farely long lines and a 40 minute wait. So instead of waiting I went and grabbed some Fastpasses for the ride (only avalible during the Holidays) and we continued on to an area of the park we hadn't visited yet. Critter Country.

    As we approched Critter Country we were looking at what I consider to be my favorite Disney ride (although I like the WDW version more) Splash Mountain. And I figured this would be a fairly short ride as we watched empty or nearly empty logs tumble over the waterfall. I guess with it being Dark and getting cold most people didn't want to chance getting wet at this time of night. Well i'm one of those people and with this being one of my favorites in the resort I was gonna ride. I got in line while Kiera continued down towards the Winnie the Pooh ride with Daniel. Sure enough the line was completly empty as I didn't even come across anyone until I was at the loading station where I was 2 people away from having my own log. Unfotunatly they placed me in a log with this couple though and my journey began.

    Although the Disneyland Splash Mountain is the original version of the ride, this is one of the rare instances where the WDW version was cloned better then the original. I do prefer the original seating arrangement as it feels like a traditional log flume and there are many more animatronics as Disneyland's bennifited from the left over America Sings animatronics being added in. The general story of the ride is still the same and the additional small drops in the attraction still take me by suprise no matter which version i'm on. Although WDW's version is longer because it has additional show scenes in it that are missing in California. I felt really bad for the couple sitting in front of the log as every drop our log pretty much nose dived soaking those 2 while I stayed dry in the very back. They really got wet on the final drop which i'm sure does not feel good with the colder weather. Even though this version isn't as good as WDW's I still love it and could ride it over and over again. Its one that I highly recommend and shouldn't be missed. I would hope to ride it again later in the trip. Hopefully late at night again in hopes to get a log to myself.

    When I exited the ride I found Kiera and Daniel waiting for me but turns out they hadn't rode the Winnie the Pooh ride because it was closed for some reason. I asked Kiera if she wanted a turn then on Splash Mountain but she decided as well with the Darkness and Cold that she didn't want to risk getting wet so she didn't ride tonight. As we were walking back up towards the exit to Critter Country we again passed the Entrance to Winnie the Pooh and found that the ride had reopened. So we parked the stroller and entered the line where there was no wait to board a vehicle. Compared to the WDW version I really like the exterior of the Disneyland ride more. I like the outdoorsy que and the outside loading area. I also like the honeycomb style ride vehicles more then the honey pots in Florida. The vehicles also move up and down more then they do in Florida which is pretty unique. However for overall story I think the WDW version is better. I also did like the new Interactive que in Florida. The ride is fairly odd during some points that seems pretty trippy but overall I found myself enjoying the ride more then I did in 2008. The opinion that really matterd though was Daniels as he really seemed to enjoy the ride again with its bright and vibrant colors. This isn't a ride that I would consider a must see but its short diversion if you're rider swapping on Splash Mountain or you want to get out of the sun. Plus it almost always has a short wait. Overall though I would say the WDW is the better of the two.

    We managed to time ourselves in Critter Country just right once again as when we were finishing with Winnie the Pooh our Fastpasses for the Haunted Mansion became avalible for use. So since we'd have to walk past the Mansion anyway thats where we would be heading next.

    As I mentioned earlier during the Christmas and Halloween Holidays the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland is transformed with a Nightmare before Christmas overlay. With these characters its almost like the Haunted Mansion becomes a completly different ride. I'm happy we decided to pull the Fastpasses as the standby line was still long. Infact it had grown 5 minutes in length since we were last here. The exterior decor of the Mansion looks like it could have been pulled right out of the Movie. The detail is so interesting and screams halloweentown. Within 5 minutes we walked thru the mansions front doors and into the stretching room where unlike WDW the stretching room is an actual elevator as you move down.

    The waiting hallway to load into the doombuggies was much less crowded then it was in Florida dispite the attraction being much busier then it was in the Magic Kingdom when we rode 7 months ago. We stepped in our Doombuggie and we were on our way into the mansion which was decorated from head to toe. Every nook and cranny it seemed had the overlay put in it. There was no floating candle. Instead Zero the Ghost dog was in the hallway. The ghosts were still dancing away in the Dance hall but theres also a very well done Gingerbread house down there with other holiday goodies. The attic is filled with presents for all the kids on Santas list. However our ride came to a stop for a moment here before continueing on to the Graveyard.

    As you approch the graveyard you'll find that it is coverd in snow as you pass a life size Jack Skellington Animatronic. The graveyard is a winter wonderland with snow angel pumpkins soaring above in the air. The ride ends after passing a Life size Oggie Boogie and collecting your presents where the hitch hiking ghosts are usually at.

    The Haunted Mansion is a Disney classic that should never be missed. And the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay really shouldn't be missed since its around for such a short time. So how does Disneylands Mansion compare to the Magic Kingdoms. Once again Disneylands Mansion is the original but its hard for me to choose the winner because I havn't been on the regular version of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland in a very long time. Exteriorwise I like the look of Floridas more and from what I remember I think the ride portion was better too. However Florida doesn't get the Holiday overlay and that makes Disneylands version into something really special. Fans of the movie will love the overlay and it will make them wish there was an actual Nightmare Before Christmas ride.

    When we finished with the Mansion we realized how hungry we were so we decided now would be a good time to find something to eat for Dinner. After looking over the Touringplans app on my phone we decided to head back to Tomorrowland to grab dinner at the Tomorrowland Terrice. As we started making way across the hub back to Tomorrowland we saw Sleeping Beauty Castle all lite up with its Christmas lights turned on. The castle looked incredible. Breathtakingly beautiful. They had the area directly in front of it closed off though i'm guessing as they started to prepare for the Fireworks.

    As we entered back into Tomorrowland the area looked great at night with all the lights on. We headed strait to the Tomorrowland Terrace where the was practically no lines for food since we had missed the dinner rush. I ended up ordering the BBQ Bacon Burger while Kiera got the Chicken Sandwich. We also ordered a milk so that we could give Daniel a bottle. Its too bad that we were eating later and the Jedi Training Acadamy was already finished for the day because here in California the show is done on a small stage at the Tomorrowland Terrace. The food was good and filling and after finishing up we continued on back into Tomorrowland.

    We were an hour away from the fireworks starting and since we still had 2 Rider Swap cards for Space Mountain from earlier in the day we decided to use them at this time. I went first again while Kiera went to wait near the exit. The wait turned out to be a little bit longer this time of night then it was earlier in the day. I'm guessing because of all the people using there expired Fastpasses late. But soon I was in the rocket and shooting off into space. I seriously love this ride so much. Its nearly perfect in every way.

    As I finished with my ride Kiera took the last Rider Swap card and went and rode as well. Why Daniel and I waited I again let him out of the stroller to let him run around for a bit. In the Starcade across from us the Wreck it Ralph meet and greet had closed for the day however the backdrops were still up and open where you could take pictures with them. Daniel loved playing around the building from the Fix it Felix Jr. Video game and it almost seemed like he was trying to climb it to "wreck it". As part of the Meet and Greet they even created a few full size Fix it Felix Jr. Arcade games that you can actually play. I never got a chance to play them but I thought it was a cool touch.

    When Kiera finished her ride thru space we had about 25 minutes until I thought the Fireworks would be starting. There was one more ride in Tomorrowland that we hadn't rode earlier because Daniel was asleep and we were sure it was a ride he would like. The ride is Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters and since Daniel is pretty much obsessed with all things Toy Story we knew he had to be awake. The line was posted with only a 10 minute wait so we got in line which stretched outside the building. It was while waiting in line though that I overhead somebody say the fireworks would be starting at 8:45. Not 9pm like I thought they would. Since we really only had about 10 minutes now until the Fireworks we decided to get out of line and not ride on Buzz today so that we could see the Fireworks instead.

  11. #26

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    I am really enjoying your report still. Keep it coming. I like your pictures as well.

  12. #27

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 4, Part 4: Disneyland

    We rushed into a very crowded Hub and Main Street area as we were less then 10 minutes away from the Fireworks starting. I thought we wouldn't be able to find too great of a spot so we were suprised to find a spot with a head on view of the castle just past the Partners statue. I don't know if this was a pathway that they had opened up right before we got there but it was like a big open spot with nobody standing that filled in as we waited.

    As we waited for the fireworks and saw so many kids with light up bands and toys we pulled out the ones we brought for Daniel. We picked some up from the local Dollar Tree before our trip so that Daniel could have something at night and he loved them. Although he also tried shoving them down my mouth too lol. Buying the light up bands at home will diffenitly save you some money from buying them in park and most kids won't know the difference.

    If you read our 2008 recap of our last visit to Disneyland then you'll know we didn't get to see the fireworks how they were intended to be viewed. We nearly got stuck on the Matterhorn on that trip and because of that delay we were blocked off from getting us in front of the Castle and forced us to watch the fireworks from Fantasyland just outside the Matterhorn. We were so excited to finally see the Christmas Fireworks from the Hub.

    The fireworks soon started and were accompanied by the sounds of Christmas Music. Daniel was instantly excited as he saw the explosians of light in the sky. He laughed and clapped just like he did with World of Color the night before. He loved the show the whole time. The show itself is pretty good. Theres not many fireworks shows out there that are as good as the worst Disney does. Plus the Christmas Fireworks make for something truely magical during the Holiday season.

    But thats not to say the fireworks are perfect. Although we were very happy to see the Fireworks from in front of the castle we couldn't help but think the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom were much better. Of course that is comparing there regular fireworks to a Holiday version so maybe that had something to do with us likeing them more. Maybe we would have enjoyed them more if it was the regular show. And we were really dissapointed to see that Tinkerbell DOES NOT FLY during the Christmas fireworks. We really wanted to see that as we hear its much better in Disneyland then it is at the Magic Kingdom. So compared to the Christmas Firework show at Disneyland. We prefer the Magic Kingdoms show more.

    Dispite these issues though and a very crowded Main Street and Hub that people will camp out for at Disneyland for hours on end the show was still great and something that you cannot miss no matter what Disney park your in. Fireworks ending the day is part of the experiance and you should make sure to see them.

    The thing that is truely made for a magical experiance though was the second the Fireworks were finished the trees illuminated white as if covered with snow and as the music changed snow starts to fall from the sky. Well not real snow. We get plenty of that in Utah but its snow that is made from bubble suds. There consistancy as the fall though do look just like snow until it touches your skin and you see what it really is. Daniel really loved the snowfall and with his reactions mixed with the soundtrack playing it was once again a moment that brought tears to my eye as I was so happy to experiance this with my small family.

    Once the snow turns off the lights in the trees will also go out but Sleeping Beauty Castle and the Main Street Tree will stay lite up for the rest of the night. Although the park was officially closed at this point we decided to go against the crowds heading for the exit and made our way to the front of the castle in hopes that there would be Photopass Photographers out again now that the fireworks were over. Unfotunatly there wasn't though so we walked thru the castle and back into Fantasyland.

    We were heading back to Fantasyland because we wanted to see "Its a Small World" lite up with its Christmas lights. We also hoped that there would be a photopass photographer back there still as well. When we got back there the building looked great lite up at night. Its probably the closest that the Disneyland Resort gets to the Spectical of Lights thats put on at the Hollywood Studios in Florida. Although the building looks amazing at night all lite up we wouldn't get to enjoy it for too long as security was already back here telling people that the park was closed and to head to the exit. Unforutnatly this also ment no Photopass people were around and the one person who took our families photo didn't use the flash.

    We started heading back towards Main Street and once again cruised passed the castle in hopes that there were photographers out but again there wasn't. I can honestly say the lack of PhotoPass Photographers was one of the only dissapointments we had with the Disneyland resort. In all of the Florida parks there were photographers everywhere AND they were all out wel past the official park closing time. That is not the case here as the photographers were hard to find in Disneyland park (although there were many in DCA) but nether park had them out after closing. I guess thats probably why the package is cheaper in California then it is for Florida.

    Main Street had cleared out fairly significantly since we left it after the Fireworks. These times after the park officially closes for the night are some of the times that I enjoy them most because you can really take in the beauty without the crowds. Main Street is a very special place at night with all the vintage lighting down the street.

    As we made our way towards the exit though we decided to take a look at the large Emporiam store to see if there was anything that we missed in many of the other stores of the resort. However there wasn't anything too special that we didn't already see elsewhere. I guess the Emporiam (as well as Elias and Co and the World of Disney Stores) carry the best selling items found thruout the resort.

    We soon reached the end of Main Street and viewed the large Christmas tree up close and gazed back down towards the castle one last time for the night. We walked past Walts Apartment above the Firehouse and the walked thru the tunnel and thru the park exit.

    The DCA exit also looked great at night with not many people standing around the Esplande.

    You would think we would start the long trek back to the Hotel now but before leaving the resort we wanted to walk thru the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney. I didn't mention it earlier but when we ate at the Bangle BBQ a couple days earlier a coupon printed on the bottom of the reciept for 20% you full order at select locations by 1pm so with only one Disney park day left we wanted to make sure first that the World of Disney store had all that we would want to buy.

    After looking around the store we did find pretty much everything we wanted to we started the walk back to the hotel. Obviously we wouldn't get back tonight before the pool closed to soak our feet but it was nice to kick our shoes off and relax once we were finally back in the room for the night. We again quickly got ready for bed as we were pretty tired and beat after spending over 13 hours in the park today. We had another Park day ahead of us tomorrow but it would be much less tiring as we would be able to sleep in a little and take our time getting to the park. Thats because tomorrow we would be returning to Universal Studios Hollywood for our 2nd and final day there.

  13. #28

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    Day 5, Part 1: Universal Studios Hollywood

    The start of this day was much more relaxing then the previous two. Although today was another park day we wouldn't be waking up before the sun rose to get ready. We would be going back to Universal Studios Hollywood today. A park we had already been to on this trip so we were't in a huge rush to get there.

    Compared to waking up before 7am then prior two days it was so nice to finally be able to somewhat sleep in. We got up and took our time getting ready and with a late breakfast in the room we finally left the hotel at around 11am.

    As we drove back to the LA area where Universal is located we noticed some darker clouds and then it started to rain. We knew that there was a chance of rain today. I was just really hoping it wouldn't be anything too bad since we would be out in the park most of the day. I thought we would be in luck though as the rain had stopped shortly before we passed Downtown LA.

    The drive to Universal took a big longer then I thought it would. I figured since we were driving during in the late morning that traffic would be fine. But we still got stuck in it for a little bit adding about 20 minutes to the drive. Although the drive should take around 40-45 minutes always plan on it taking over an hour. I wish I would have thought that sooner.

    We pulled up to the Universal Studios and it was evident right away how different the crowds would be compared to what they were on Saturday when we came. There was only 1 lane open to get into the parking area. Then we were able to find a spot right up front to the Citywalk enterance from the garage instead of parking 3 levels up like we did Saturday.

    This time we were on the main level of Citywalk when we exited the garage. As we walked thru Citywalk towards the park we walked past the iFly indoor skydiving. Well I guess its indoor but you the tube is actually outside and anyone can watch the skydivers do there thing in the tube. It was pretty cool to sit and watch for a moment and Daniel really seemed to enjoy it. I don't think I could ever get myself to do it though.

    As we walked thru Citywalk the whole place had a different vibe to it compared to the previous Saturday. It was much nicer not being so packed but many things were missing. Santa wasn't out and there wasn't any concerts going on. Still Citywalk Hollywood is probably my favorite out of all the resort shopping/entertainment areas in California and Florida.

    We soon arrived at the enterance of the park. Unfortunatly though as we were walking thru Citywalk the rain had come back. Luckly it wasn't too bad though and we hoped it wouldn't get any worse then it was. Considering today was much lighter crowd wise then it was on Saturday we were suprised by how many Universal Photographers were out taking photos for guests near the globe and enterance to the park. If you are using the Citypass tickets make sure you don't forget your actual plastic Citypass card as you will need it to get into the park.

    You'll notice that some of the photos I post may be in similar spots as photos I already posted from when we were in the park earlier. This is to show the difference in crowds going to the park on a Wednesday compared to a Saturday during the Holiday Season. Of course with less crowds though will come shorter hours and referbs as the Park was only open until 5pm tonight (compared to 8pm on Saturday) and Jurassic Park was closed for Referb.

    Right after we walked thru the gate we were stopped by a TM wanting us to take a short survey. Normally I don't ususally do this but for our time he offered to give us a free "A" Gate (front of the line) pass for the Studio Tour. So I figured why not. The survey was pretty simple demographic survey as they asked questions like our age, where we were from, where else we were visiting in Southern California, how many times we'd been to the park in the past, ect...... It only took about 2 minutes of our time and we figured that pass would come in handy later in the day.

    Before heading to any attractions Kiera needed to use the Restroom so we stopped at the one near the enterance to the park. These Restrooms do sit next to a couple attractions such as the Waterworld Stunt Show, Gibson Amphitheater, and also the House of Horrors. Unfortunatly we didn't do any of these attractions on this trip though. However we did in 2008 when we last visited.

    Water World is said by many to be one of the best Stunt Shows there is. I would say its pretty good but I don't think its the best. Honestly I think i've enjoyed the Sinbad Show in Islands of Adventure and the Lights, Motors, Action show at Disneys Hollywood Studios More. Still its something that I wish we would have done again as it is something that you should see for yourself when going to the park. Its also something you should see soon too as its rumored to be one of the areas that will be removed to make way for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Expansion.

    Another area that the Wizarding World is rumored take over is the space currently used by the Gibson Amphitheater. This venue actually isn't an attraction in the theme park but an acutal concert venue where big names in music perform when they come to town.

    The House of Horrors is a walk thru attraction bringing you face to face with some of the classic monsters of Universal film history. Its basically a year round haunt comparible to what you would find during Halloween Horror Nights. Although when we went thru back in 2008 we weren't real super impressed with it. The sets were amazingly detailed. But it severly lacked scareactors. I'm sure that was because it was weekday then as well. One advantage about it though is you don't go thru it in a congo line like the HHN houses though. Do to the possible fear factor of this wether it was heavly staffed or not though is what prevented us from going thru it with Daniel on this trip.

    As we continued into the park we passed all the same areas we did when we were at the park Saturday. However with it being much less busy we were able to stop and get a photo with Jaws. We decided to save the Studio Tour for later as we walked by though on our way to the Simpsons Ride.

    When we got to the Simpsons ride though the wait time had rose to 25 minutes. So we figured we would hit it after the Lower Lot. But before heading down Homer and Marge Simpson were out doing Meet and Greets so we took Daniel over to see them.

    Luck was with us as before we got to the Lower Lot Escolaters the Rain had completly stopped and it didn't return for the rest of our time in the park. Dispite Grinchmas not taking place today the grinch story speal was still being played as you make the long journey down the escalator system to the Lower Lot. Without the crowds there is plenty of space to stop and take a look at the Backlot and other parts of the Studios as you make your way to the bottom.

    Once we got to the bottom we decided to first get ourselves a little treat. Universal Studios Hollywood offered a popcorn bucket for I think around $6 with unlimited refills thruout the park that day. We thought this was a great deal and figured we would diffenitly get our moneys worth out of it. Needless to say we did as I belive we refilled it like 4 times.

    So now we were on to our first attraction of the day. One right next to the Popcorn place and one we didn't go on when we were at the park a few days earlier. That ride was Revenge of the Mummy. Now although this ride shares the same name and the same ride system as the Florida version thats about where the simularities end. First of all you'll notice the lackluster facade the attraction has here in California as it pretty much is just a soundstage with a sign. Kinda intersting when you think of it that Florida has the neat Museum and Theater Facades yet inside its themed to as if your making another Mummy Movie. Yet in California outside is themed as a Soundstage look yet inside you "literally" enter an egyptian tomb. As with Transformers we were given a card for me to take thru the que and exchange after the ride for a Rider Swap card while Kiera and Daniel were taken thru the Exit into the Child Swap room.

    The Outdoor section of the que is minimally themed. some statues here and there but nothing great. Its not an area I would want to spend a lot of time waiting in. Inside though the que is actually very well themed. Not as well as the Florida version but still pretty well considering there was much less space to work with. Still many of the que gags are present in Hollywood as well. I didn't get to see them up close though as with how short the lines were we bipassed all the switchbacks. The line stretched all the way to the outdoor section though and was about a 10 minute wait until I was boarding the ride.

    The ride itself is still a Roller Coaster/Dark Ride Hybrid. Although the ride is much shorter considering it is housed in the Former E.T. Adventure building instead of the much larger soundstage that the Florida version got for replacing the Kongfrontation. The ride starts out slower as a dark ride as you venture into the Mummy's tomb. Theres a guy above that you pass warning you to turn around as the curse is real as he is eaten by the beetles and drops of water drop you to simulate the guys blood. You pass a tunnel with hands reaching down for you and then enter the Treasure room which is much smaller and less intense then Floridas. As you turn the corner you come to a room where Imohop is as he steals your souls. Two Solders drop from the cealing and then the Coaster launches forward into the coaster portion of the ride.

    The Launch as diffenitly much better in Hollywood then it is in Florida but I would say that the coaster portions themselves are about the same thrill wise. In both rides you will pass by the blacklight solders that look horrible. At one point you will come to a stop as you face a wall of scarab beetles. Yes Florida has this part as well but unlike Floridas ride vehicles the Hollywood ones are equiped with the leg ticklers so little shots of air on your legs make it feel like the bugs are really crawling on you. The vehicle then moves backwards into the reverse portion of the ride which although is significantly better then the backwards part of Floridas ride it still isn't as good as Expedition Everests. The real killer to this ride though is the abroupt ending. As you stop on the turntable theres just some flash of light as you spin as the Imohop yells and then the wall opens and the vehicle returns to the unload area.

    The Mummy is easily one of the do not miss attractions on the Hollywood park. But it pales in comparission in almost every way to the Florida version. Really the only things I'd say are better in Hollywood are the backwards portion of the ride and the launch. Its too bad that the ride isn't a little bit longer and I wish they could figure out a better ending. But given the smaller soundstage that Hollywood had to work with I couldn't imagine the ride turning out any better. So don't miss out on this ride. But don't expect it to be as great as the Florida ride.

    I went down to the Child Swap room wich unlike the rest of the interior of the attraction is completly unthemed. I was acutally kind of shocked as the Florida version still has a themed Child Swap room. There was tv playing the Mummy Cartoon but that was the extent of the themeing. There were a few toys and playsets kids could play with while waiting and Daniel seemed to really enjoy it. Kiera got back in much less time after her ride then it took me as the line was nonexistant when she rode.

    As we exited the Mummy area we noticed the Dora the Explorer was out meeting park guests so we took Daniel over to see her. He watches the show every now and then on Nick Jr. but its not one of his favorites. He didn't really know what to think of her lol. Once again its so weird how he didn't care for characters on this trip.

    After topping off our Popcorn again The next attraction we went to is one that we rode a few days earlier and also the parks newest attraction. Transformers the Ride 3d. Where the ride had a posted 45 minute wait on Saturday today the wait was only 10 minutes. We asked for a Child Swap card and Kiera and Daniel went to the exit to go to the Child Swap room. As I started to make my way to the main enterance one of the TM's told me I could use Single Rider with no wait. I knew this but I didn't want to use Single Rider at this time. I wanted to see the actual themed que for the attraction and I figured 10 minutes wasn't a bad wait.

    The theme starts as you walk inside. Whats a very bland building with an obnoxously large mural on the outside looks like a very industrial, sophesticated and very high tech military facility on the inside. The first room has a bunch of screens and buttons a switches you pass by. I didn't stick around long enough to see what happens on the screens or if the buttons work or do anything though.

    The next room is where the Allspark remnant is kept in a secured container. This room was probably my favorite in the whole que as I loved seeing the detail on the Allspark itself. The room after that has the tail peice of the decepticon from the first film with what seems like some sort of tests being done on it. As you enter the room after that though you can tell something is going on at this Nest facility though as now the emergency warning lights were flashing thruout the room and also the ramps you go down as you decend to the load area.

    Had I gone Single Rider or not it wouldn't have matered as there was no wait at all at the end of the ride. I walked strait on to a ride vehicle and then the fight against the Decpticons was on. As I mentioned earlier Transformers is an incredible ride. It uses the same ride system as Spiderman in Islands of Adventure but its much more action packed from the get go. Although one downside of the attraction is it is much more dependent on screens then it is physical sets when compared to Spiderman. Transformers is a solid attraction that should not be missed and will make a great addition to the Orlando park.

    After my ride I went to the Child Swap Room where Daniel was the only kid in there playing today. Which was nice cause the room is so interactive that Daniel was having a great time in there. As Kiera took the Child Swap Card to go on her ride (which was much better this time around with no breakdowns like before) I played with Daniel in the room. He liked pushing the buttons and seeing the autobots on the screens. Although it is kinda odd having the large glass looking out at the unload area. I guess its great for parents waiting for others in there party but its kind of odd for those getting off the ride seeing the kids in a bubble.

    When Kiera was done with her ride which was much better then her first I decided to quickly go on Transformers again since there was no wait for it. This time I did just enter thru the Single Riders line as it is a much shorter distance to travel. Practically down the stairs from the enterance and your on the load plateform. I walked right on to the ride again and even had a whole row to my self this time. Once again the ride was amazing and I spent this ride looking in some directions that your not suppose to look to see how the ride functions and also see how effective the elevators are hidden as its something you really don't notice unless your looking for them.

    As we exited the ride we decided to look in the Transformers Gift Shop right across from the ride exit. I was very suprised by how small the shop was and would hope that Orlando's will be much larger. There were some unique merchandise but we didn't get anything. Right outside the shop is where the Optimus Prime and Bumblebee meet and greets are located but nether of them were out yet. We were about 30 minutes away still from Optimus Primes first showing of the day and 45 from Bumblebee. I really wanted a picture with them so we figured we would wait out the time on the Lower Lot before heading back to the Upper Lot. I thought about giving the Energon drink another try but the stand that sells it was closed. Next to Transformers though in one of the large soundstages something was taking place but we couldn't tell what it was.

    With time to kill on the Lower Lot we decided to stop in and look around The NBC/Universal Experiance. This is a exhibit that has many props and costumes from many Movies and TV shows from NBC/Universal History. They also have an actual Acadamy and Emmy Award on Display. There may be thousands of different things on display with discriptions of it all and the exhibit seems to switch out regularly. To promote the film Paranorman there were many of the claymations and sets on display from the movie in there. Its pretty cool to see and look at some of the props. It could also kill a lot of time if you look and read every thing in there. I'm very suprised that the Florida park doesn't have something like this. I think it would go over much better then the I Love Lucy exhibit.

    After the Experiance we once again refilled our Popcorn and then walked around the closed Jurassic Park area. I belive this was the final full week it was closed for Referb (it was only opening on the weekends) so dispite it being closed the flume was still full of water and the Waterfall was turned on. It was pretty depressing though not seeing and hearing the boats splash into the pond. The shop was also closed do the refurb.

    Since there was still time before Optimus Prime would be out I figured now would be as good of time as any to take another spin on the Mummy. Kiera didn't really care to ride again though so instead of waiting for me in Child Swap she took Daniel over to the Dino Play area that had finally opened up (it was closed earlier) so that he could play and unwind a bit. As I made my way thru the empty line for the Mummy I pretty much walked right into one of the vehicles. The ride was a blast again and I hoped there wouldn't be any crowds when I returned to the station so I could possibly ride again. Unfortunatly though there was so I had to unload. I considered running back thru the ride and going again but decided against it.

    I walked over to the Dino Play are where Daniel was the only kid playing. It was quite the difference from Saturday when the area was so packed you could barely move. Daniel really enjoyed having the playground to himself playing with the toys and climbing on and under the nets or going down the slide. I was only there for a few minutes though when it was time to head back over near Transformers to meet Optimus Prime. Daniel was not happy about it though as he cried as we walked away from the Dino Play area. He really loved it.

    It was within 5 minutes of when Optimus would be coming out but there was already a crowd of about a dozen people waiting to meet him when we got to the location. We got in line and before long Optimus came walking out. These characters are pretty incredible to see in person. They are much taller then they look in photos and just to see how the stilt walkers work are pretty awesome. Its too bad they don't do more then stand there. Do to the fact that they are on stilts they also don't let you get too close to the characters during the meet and greet as there is a line on the ground that you have to stay behind. Daniel didn't seem to know what to think about Optimus Prime but I thought it was pretty cool.

    Bumblebee would be coming out in 15 minutes but we decided not to wait. I wanted to at least see one of them and having seen Optimus I was fine moving on back up to the Upper Lot. Besides we still had a lot of stuff we still wanted to do up there before the park closed. We refilled the Popcorn bucket one last time before heading back and then started the long trek back up the escalators.

  14. #29

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    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    Day 5, Part 2: Universal Studios Hollywood

    Once we were at the top of the Escalators we figured now should be a good time go on one of the other Major attractions in the park. The Simpsons Ride. Earlier the wait time was at 25 mintues and so we bipassed it to the lower lot. This is a ride that we consider a must do if you can handle Motion Simulators so we didn't want to miss out on it. The Plaza area where the ride is located is also lightly themed to the Simpsons and they even strung up some Mega Trees decorated for Christmas with Presents addressed to different characters from the TV Show. Unlike Florida though the large Krusty head does not have a large Santa hat on it during the Holidays. However the Simpsons Family at the rides Marque do. This is the extent of the Holiday decor on the ride though.

    We were shocked to still see a 25 minute wait posted for the ride. We figured that since all the other rides have had shorter waits then posted then this one would too. We got a Child Swap card and I entered the line while Kiera and Daniel walked to the Child Swap area to wait (which oddly enough is outdoors for this ride). Upon entering the ride though I found the line to be even longer then it was earlier in the day. So I got out of line and figured we would try again later when the attraction would hopefully be slower.

    Earlier in the day the only attraction that had a longer wait time then the Simpsons Ride was the Studio Tour. This was something we wanted to do again. Especially since filming takes place during the week and not on the weekend. But would the line still be long for it? That didn't matter because remember we got a free "A" Gate pass for the Studio tour for taking that survey.

    We made our way to the Studio Tour, Parked the stroller, and then entered the A Gate area. Of course by this time of day that really wouldn't matter as the Studio Tours Que was very short as I think everyone in line made it on to our tram. The only difference was that the "A" Gate guests were put in the very front part of the tram with the Tour Guide and Driver. We thought this could be pretty cool. I made sure this time around to sit on the left side of the tram though as when we rode a few days earlier we sat on the Right side.

    Just to give the heads up now I won't be writting a whole lot about the Studio Tour as I already gave a pretty in depth review of it from our previous day in the park. Instead of repeating what i've already wrote I will just give a basic overview of the tour so don't expect a whole lot other then pictures.

    Once the tram was full we started our tour into the backlot. It was obvious farely quickly that this tour would be somewhat different then the tour a few days ago. The biggest difference was in our Tour Guides though. Both were very good but they just did things so diffrently. Where our guide on Saturday acted as if things were happing on the backlot as if it was real life this guide was all about giving us the in's and outs of filmmaking and made it clear we were going thru movie sets. Different styles but both good. We learned things new on each tour. Once again another reason to do the tour multipule times. The tour would also be shorter today do to filming taking place. Where the full tour we had Saturday took about 45 minutes the tour today would be more like 30.

    We started the decent down the hill passing again all the different movie posters from Universal's Amazing Film history. At the bottom of the hill you enter the front lot area that contains the studios Soundstages. Sitting on the left side you will get a better view of Soundstage 12 where The Voice is recorded (it was recording today infact). This is where that Film magic comes in to play as I never knew the Voice is recoreded in a Soundstage since it shows the contestants walking into a theater before there performances. Not a soundstage.

    The entire front lot was very busy with activity today compared to Saturday. There were people everywhere, tons of trailers and golf carts driving past. I mentioned that The Voice was filming today on the front lot but so were the NBC shows Go On and Parenthood. Many of the soundstages we went past even had there doors open so we were able to peak in and see some sets for movies being filmed. Unfortunatly though we didn't see any noticible Actors.

    After you pass thru the Front Lot and Bungalos the tour would next take you thru the New York and City streets. But not today. We just passed by as there was filming taking place in the City sets so the trams are not allowed to go thru during shooting. The Tour guide told us that the TV show Castle and also a TV commercial were being shot in different parts of the City Sets today. However on the filming board at the parks enterance it said that it was actually the Fox Comedy the Mindy Project that was shooting today on the City Sets. I was kinda sad we didn't get to go thru the City Sets though as I looked forward to having a better view of Corthouse Square being on the left side of the tram.

    Since we bipassed the City sets we pulled right up past the old collapsing bridge and into the Kong 360 experiance. This is one of the highlights of the tour and is an incredible experiance. This was one of those times though where I HIGHLY recommend you sit in one of the middle cars of the tram. Sitting in the very front car this time was still good and fun. However it seemed like we missed out on alot of the visual action as we had to turn around backwards to see it. Daniel did great again dispite there being some scary moments for kids in the Kong Experiance.

    Driving next past all the Movie cars is much better sitting on the Left side of the tram then it is the right as you can actually get a good look at the vehicles here. Some of the Vehicles include cars from Back to the Future (including the Original Delorean), The Mustang from the newer Knight Rider show, some Lost World vehicles, and cars from The Fast and the Furious Movies. I loved seeing these cars up close on the tram tour but I kinda wish they had them on display instead thruout the park. And I don't know what there doing with the BTTF Delorean but it looks to be in pretty sad condition.

    We entered the Fast and the Furious Dancing car thing next and the show was still stupid after intial explosion. Although the show is worse being in the front car as your seeing it from the side instead of head on. The Dancing part is so dumb and I wish they could come up with a better idea for this area or a better use of this Franchise.

    Next up is the small Jurassic Park set up that has more props and vehicles from the films. This is an area that is much better seen sitting on the Left side of the tram as you will see the Lost World Trailers and vehicles, Wrecked Tour Explorer, and other props better. Just watch out for some escaped Dinos out to get ya.

    The tram goes down a hill and into the Mexican streets area where of course is the Flash Flood portion of the tour. This was another part where it kinda sucked being in the very front car of the tram as you really couldn't see the Flood very well. This is another experiance on the tour that if you want a good view then sit in one of the middle cars of the tram. Unlike Saturday we also didn't go thru many of the Mexico streets ether. It was pretty much just the flash flood and we left the Mexico Streets.

    I could be wrong but it seemed like we did see more of the Western sets though. These are the sets where the Universal Backlot originally started and I was glad to see that the original street is still there. Although we saw pretty much all of the Western Sets on this day though it does seem like they have taken some of the sets out since our trip in 2008.

    After passing a large water tank that is used for Underwater filming we head out to the Backlot Lagoon again where we will see the lagoon part and we will drive thru it. This was one of the parts that was kind of cool being in the very front car of the tram as we were able to watch the water part with a head on view. To the left of course is the Skull Island miniatures used when filming King Kong. Sitting on the left side of the tram gives a great view of these miniature sets.

    Next up on the tour is the European sets that can become pretty much any European country depending on what flags are raised lol. However unlike Saturday we didn't go into the sets. We just drove past them which I thought was odd considering there wasn't any filming going on in there today.

    The Earthquake portion of the tour is next as we pulled into the soundstage to experiance what an Earthquake would feel like. Those of you in Orlando of course have the same experiance in Disaster but I think Diasters experiance is a bit more extreme since it has a dedicated ride vehicle instead of an unanchored tram going thru it. This is another one of the best parts of the Studio tour in my opinion.

    After surviving this Earthquake we made our way up a hill and entered the town of Amity where we would now have to survive an attack from the Great White Shark JAWS. The right side of the tram is better for this experiance and you will still see Jaws well being in the front car of the tram. However what you do miss being in the front is the fire effects on the dock unless you turn around to see them.

    When you leave Amity you next go to Westeria Lane which is the famous neighborhood from the TV show Desperate Housewives. With that showing being over with now the area doesn't see as much filming anymore and is open more regularly to the trams. Although no filming was going on today there were many Golf Carts parked for the show Go On as they were prepping some of the houses to be used in and upcoming episode of that show.

    We next entered Whoville which as you may recall from a previous update was very active with Who's and the Grinch performing for the trams driving past. Such was not the case today though since Grinchmas was only taking place on the weekends. The place looked pretty sad with the stages covered with tarps and no characters around. We just drove right on past the set.

    Around the bend though as we drove up to the Bates Motel, Norman Bates was out and up to his old habbits again carrying a dead body to his car. Not happy about us seeing what he was up to he pulled out a knife and started to walk towards the tram. We've already survived a T-Rex fighting King Kong, Sptting Dinosaurs, an Earthquake, and Jaws so escaping a man with a knife wasn't a big deal.

    The next movie set is I believe billed as the largest set Universal has ever built and its the 747 wreck from the War of the Worlds movie. This set is huge and the distruction looks so real. This part of the tour is best experianced on the Left side of the tram and will leave you in awe. It is so eery looking.

    The last thing you will experiance on the Studio Tour is the Mummy's Tomb. This use to be the formal Avalanche tunnel that has been rethemed to the Mummy. The spinning Tunnel still happens and will really throw you off. It still amazes me that such a simple effect can make it feel like your really spinning around and around. Daniel was asleep by this point so it didn't bother him at all.

    After surviving the Mummy you start your return to the Tram loading area. To the left is the parking structure that you likly parked in today when coming to the park and normally wouldn't be anything too cool. However this was the parking structure that the used to film the Trailer Cliff scene from the Lost World on.

    Our Studio Tour was now over as we pulled into the station and unloaded the Tram. I've said it before and i'll say it again that the Studio Tour is an absolutly must see when going to the Hollywood park. This is the whole reason the park exists. You should even try to do it more then once if you can. However this tour wasn't nearly as good as the tour we had on Saturday. Although its great to see so much action taking place on the Front and Back Lots during the week, because of this filming taking place many portions of the tour are cut out and the tour is much shorter. Seeing the whole full tour on Saturday mixed with the Grinchmas production really made the tour much better then, then the tour that we had today. Of course many people only visit Universal Studios Hollywood for one day so they won't know the difference between the full tour and the condensed version when filming is taking place. In the words of Jimmy Fallon. "Have a Tramtastic Day".

  15. #30

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    Jan 2011

    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

    I've been checking up on this thread for the last two months! Good read

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