Day 5, Part 3: Universal Studios Hollywood & Westwood
After the Studio tour and with Daniel still sleeping we figured there wasn't a better time to attempt The Simpsons ride again. I was once again very suprised when we arrived at the ride and found a 25 minute wait still posted at the attraction. Unlike last time though where the line was very long there was no line for the attraction at this time.
I got in line while Kiera went to the Child Swap area with the sleeping child. I expected the Child Swap room to be themed much like the Orlando version however that was not the case. Infact the Child Swap area for the Simpsons ride is located outside of the attraction. The line for the Simpsons ride in Hollywood is themed pretty much the same as the Orlando version with some Krustyland attraction posters and TV moniters playing clips from the show. Dispite the que's being similar in Florida and Hollywood though I think the building and facades themselves look MUCH better in Hollywood which based on the "Krustyland" map is what Universal Creative likely designed the facade around and then forced it on the Florida building. In Hollywood the 2 theaters are in seperate buildings connected only by the que line where in Florida its all one building. I had practically no outside wait before being guided inside to wait direction to what theater and vehicle I would be riding.
The rides themselves and videos are exactly the same in Hollywood and Florida. In 2008 I was still really dissapointed to see my former all time favorite Motion Simulator Ride Back to the Future replaced by the Simpsons. Although I was sad to see Back to the Future gone though I thought although not as good that back the Simpsons ride was a worthy replacement. Especially if your a fan of the show. Heck Kiera doesn't care much for the show but loves the ride. The Simpsons is a very good ride that I consider a do not miss wether your in Hollywood or Orlando. But it no longer has the title of my favorite "current" Motion Simulator like it did from 2008-2011. That title is now claimed by Star Tours: The Adventure Continues. There is one difference though between the Orlando and Hollywood versions of the ride though and that is in Hollywood there is a ride photo taken of you that you can view at the bottom of the exit ramps of the ride.
I meet Kiera in the Child Swap area which was actually pretty cold as the sun started to set on our day. Kiera took the Child Swap card I got earlier and entered the ride dispite it really not being needed. I waited around in the cold until Daniel woke up from his Nap. Once he did and figuring we would keep warm while moving I decided to walk over to check out the Kwik-e-Mart. Theres a few things different about this store between Hollywood and Florida. First of all the Facade of the store is So much better in Hollywood then Florida because it actually looks like the Kwik-E-Mart from the TV Show. The store also had different themed facades depending which side your standing on with Moes being on one side and the Androids Dungion on the other. So sorta like you see currently under construction in Orlando but on a smaller scale. Although the stores main enterance facade looked more anthentic to the show you soon realized once inside the store that it is very small. You could probably fit 2 of them inside the Orlando store.
Next to the Kwik-E-Mart Bart Simpson was out meeting guests. Since we meet Homer and Marge earlier in the day I figured we should see Bart as well. There was no line to see him and he was cute with Daniel dispite Daniel not really giving a crap lol.
Kiera seemed to be taking longer then I thought she would so after sending her a text and finding out she was still in the indoor waiting room I figured I would take Daniel to the Curious George Play area to let him run around while we waited instead of the cold Child Swap area. I was shocked to find when we got there though that it was already closed for the night dispite us still being about 20 minutes away from official park closing. That was something that seemed to echo thruout the park as Daniel and I walked around. Shrek 4d already had its final showing of the day, almost all the food service locations were closed and most of the smaller shops. It was pretty strange. I guess it all fit in though with all the closed off Grinchmas areas.
For so many things already being closed before the official park closing I was actually suprised to see Characters still out. Not only did we see Bart Simpson but Sponge Bob was also out still at his Meet and Greet. There was a small line but with time to kill until Kiera was done we waited to see Sponge Bob who Daniel seemed to enjoy the most.
We made our way next into the International Streets where I had more time to look around. The International Streets right now are easily the most well themed area of the park. Although not large take your time and look around as theres some neat details and even some movie props such as the Mini Cooper from one of the Bourne movies and Biff's Car from Back to the Future. Mels Dinner is also back here although its not as big or as themed as the Orlando one.
In the back behind the International Streets is an attraction and store that I was really hoping would still be open. The now closed Terminator 2 3d. I really wished we would have got to see this show one last time before it closed because it is pretty good. However with Daniel and time constraints its one we didn't plan to experiance. The building (along with the old Coke Soak play area) is now behind walls as its converted into the Dispicable Me Ride. What I was going back here for was for the Terminator exit store as it was also where Universal had all there markdown merchandise at. In addition to the Markdown stuff the Terminator store was like it is in Orlando and carry's a bunch of different stuff including franchises not in or owned by Universal like Marvel and DC stuff. Kiera finally meet up with us at this store and after looking thru all the Markdowns and not finding anything we left.
Since Kiera had now rejoined Daniel and I we walked around the International streets again as we made our way towards the exit of the Park. Again these areas are so detailed that its fun to look around. Especially with the Holiday decore and window displays that are set up.
Most of the shops were closed before the park was but like every major theme park the main stores at the park enterance stay open later then the park does. This was good as we had a few things to get before leaving the park for the day and the trip. Those of you who follow my reports may recall the items we buy each time we go on vacation. A postcard and a Christmas Ornament. Both of these seem to frustrate me more though each trip we go on. Postcards seem to be harder and harder to come by. Especially since Universal (even Disney) hasn't updated there cards in a very long time. Yes some of the Universal cards still had Back to the Future, the Original Kong Encounter, and Backdraft on them. What really suprised me though was the lack in Christmas Ornaments. ESPECIALLY at Christmas time. We found no Ornaments that said Universal Studios on them. I found a Keychain that I could convert to an Ornament but I figured we could look at the Grinchmas store first. The Grinchmas store had Grinch and Dr. Suess themed ornaments but again none of them said Universal Studios much less Grinchmas on them. Still we decided a Grinch Ornament would be symbolic of Grinchmas so thats what we settled on. I thought about getting a shirt or a lanyard but I couldn't find any styles that I really liked.
Don't forget to see the filming sign as you exit or enter the park to see what is filming that day. I wish we would have seen it on Saturday when we came (dispite being told nothing was filming as everything we were told was being filmed today was wrong). We exited the park and our time at Universal Studios Hollywood was over. I mentioned it when I posted earlier about Universal but the Hollywood park really is a great little park. Is it as good as Orlando? Of course not. Universal Studios Hollywood will always be a Movie Studio first and theme park second. Still the parks Studio Tour is something you will not see anywhere else. Some parks may try to replicate it but its nothing like the real deal. That alone is worth a visit to the park. And it will only get better as Dispicable Me is finished and the Wizarding World is built over the next few years. Although it was much busier on Saturday I can't help but admit that it was the better day to go. Honestly I feel bad for the people who go on a weekday and don't know all that there missing due to filming on the Studio Tour. The tour was better Saturday and Grinchmas adds a whole nother level of fun to the park. Still I couldn't imagine going to California and not going to Universal. Its always been that way since I was little.
CityWalk was bustling with people once again. It was nearly as packed as it was Saturday night but it was still pretty busy and much more packed then it was during the day. But then again Night time is really when this place comes alive. No concerts were taking place tonight with just Music Videos being played over the big screen.
The night was still young as we exited the parking garage and left the Universal Property. The park closed today at 5pm and at 5:45 we were on the freeway. With the night still free we started to make our way to the Westwood area of Los Angeles. This little area just off the campus of UCLA is a little area we fell in love with on our Honeymoon in 2008 and a place we return to each time we are in Southern California. The GPS directed us to take Santa Monica Blvd thru Hollywood to get there and dispite not being too far distance wise, the drive took about 45 minutes to get from Universal to Westwood. Parking is a pain in the butt to find around Westwood as its a very popular hang out for the Collage crowds. Even on a weeknight. We ended up finding a parking garage with $3 parking after driving around in circles for a bit.
If you didn't notice we never ate lunch today in the park since we had a late breakfast and didn't get to the park tell later in the day. So by this point in our day we were starving. There are many diffrent restaurants around the Westwood area but we were so hungry that we just went strait to the Califonia Pizza Kitchen. Suprisingly we got right in and sat at a table. Its been so long now but I think I got a Meat lover type pizza and Kiera got a Salad. Daniel of course got his Milk as well. The food was good and priced pretty much the same as it is back home.
The real thing though that brings us back to Westwood each trip is a little place called Diddy Riese. This little place sells the best Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches that we've every had. You choose what kind of Ice Cream you want and then choose 2 cookes to have it placed between. The best part is the sandwich only costs $1.50. That is rediculously cheap for very good food especially in an area like Westwood. There is always a line and the shop is small so be prepaired to wait. And make sure you have cash as thats all that they accept there. We try to go multipule times and even get a dozen cookies before the end of our trip (only $6). I can't recommend this place enough.
After walking around the area we finally left Westwood to head back to our hotel in Anaheim. We got on the freeway and started the long drive back as with traffic tonight it took us over an hour to get back to Anaheim. To make matters worse something unthinkable happened. Daniel thru up all over the back seat of the rental car. Kiera was sitting back there with him already so she was able to start cleaning up the best she could while I drove. But the damage was done. He was soaked and so was his car seat and the seat of the car. And it didn't smell good.
When we got back to the hotel we hoped to have time to head over to the pool but do to the throw up incident that was out the window. We got Daniel and his car seat into the bedroom where Kiera started getting him cleaned up. While she did so I took the car to go find an auto parts store or somewhere that I could buy some upolstry cleaner to try to get the throw up and the smell out of the seats cushion. I found a K-Mart and got what I needed there. Dispite being a few miles from Disneyland It was intersting that I could still hear the Fireworks exploading inside the K-Mart and even see them outside from the Parking Lot.
Once back at the hotel I got to work on the cushion. I scrubbed and sprayed and did all I could. I got the stains out of the seat and most of the smell. But unfortunatly the smell still lingered. I would end up scrubbing it a couple more times before we returned the car at the end of the trip. I just couldn't believe this happened. Its never happened before in ether of our personal cars so it figures it would in a rental car. I just hoped we wouldn't get charged extra for this accident.
After I got done cleaning I went back into the hotel room where Daniel was already going down to bed. The kid was worn out after another day in a theme park and also after his accident. We tried cleaning the car seat with the cleaner as well before we went to bed. At least tomorrow would be an off day so again we wouldn't have to worry about waking up early. It was originally suppose to be our final day at Disney. But with how tired we were from the last 3 park days we decided to move it to Friday instead to take advantage of longer hours and Fantasmic. We were glad we did as we really needed this off day to just kick back, relax, and take it easy.
Day 6: Downtown Disney & Knott's Christmas Craft Village
Let me start off by saying that this recap of Day 6 may not have as much writing as the past days have. Since this was a down day that mostly focused on shopping I really don't have much detail to write about.
It was very nice to once again have a day to sleep in and not be in a rush to get to a Theme Park. As I mentioned before this day was originally planned to be our final Disney day. But do to how tired we had found ourselves and a chance of rain all day long we decided to make it an off day instead and do our final Disney day on Friday instead. We took our time getting ready for the day and ate a late breakfast before finally leaving for the day. Today would be a shopping day in addition to other take it easy type stuff.
We left the hotel at around 11:30am to drive over to Downtown Disney where we would be starting our day. Earlier in the week we got a coupon on the bottom of our reciept from the Bengle BBQ that would give us 20% off our entire purchase at the World of Disney Store in Downtown Disney (as well as the Emporiam in Disneyland and Elias and Co. in DCA) but it had to be used by 1pm. So Downtown Disney was the first stop since we were pressed for time.
Parking was easy to find at Downtown Disney and your first 3 hours are free. After that though the rates for parking skyrocket to discourage people from parking there for the theme parks thinking they can trick the system. Yes Downtown Disney was a short walk from our hotel but since it wasn't the only thing we would be doing today we decided just to drive over.
We entered the area between the Rainforest Cafe and the ESPN Zone which put us exactly where we were at a few days earlier when we rode the monorail in to grab lunch at Earl of Sandwich. Which is all on the West end of the area next to the Disneyland Hotel.
Since were were on a time crunch to use that coupon we immediatly started walking to the east side of Downtown Disney to where the World of Disney store is located. As we were walking though Daniel got really excited as we walked past the Lego Store and he saw the giant display of legos depecting a scene from Toy Story. Which is his favorite movies. He thought it was pretty cool.
We soon got to the World of Disney store which is very big but still noticibly smaller then the Orlando version. As with all of our vacations we had a few things we would be specifically looking for in the store. Notibly being our Christmas Ornament and a Postcard. Being Christmas time at the Disneyland Resort there diffenitly wasn't any shortage on Christmas Ornaments here like there were at Universal, however the Postcard was very difficult to find. Especially one that only featured Disneyland or only DCA instead of the whole resort (much like we found earlier in the year at Walt Disney World). We were still able to find some cards that worked though.
We typically aren't big spenders on merchandise outside of our traditional purchases. But we did decide to splurge a bit more on this trip. Kiera got a new Minnie Mouse Keychain and I got a Lanyard to wear for work. Kiera also got some Mickey Mouse Cookie Cutters that we found difficult to find when we thru a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Party for Daniels 1st Birthday back in September. But the biggest expense came when we decided it would be fun to all get shirts to wear tomorrow for our final day in Disneyland. I decided on a Tee Shirt while Daniel got a Zip Up jacket and Kiera a Pull over Hoodie. They didn't have the Hoodie in Kiera size though so she just settled for one a size larger in hopes that maybe another Disney store had it and we could exchange. We spent a lot of money at the World of Disney store but we also saved alot. I think our total purchase was just under $70. That coupon went a long ways so check your reciepts to see if you get one too.
Since we got done with the shopping we needed to first and foremost we now took our time exploring the rest of Downtown Disney as worked our way back towards the Disneyland Hotel. The World of Disney Store is located right across from the Tram drop off area and next to the Entry plaza for the Theme Parks. Its smaller then the WDW version but I thought it was unique in the that the Grand Californian Hotel is right above it. The store is on the first level with rooms above it which I don't know would make having those rooms bad or not. We stopped in and looked around the Quicksilver store but found mostly everything to be pricey. Daniel did enjoy the fish tank though.
With a whole day to kill we decided to check out some of the Disneyland Resort Hotels as well. So when we got to the Downtown Disney enterance to the Grand Californian we decided to check it out. We havn't had the chance to explore any of the WDW Resort hotels so I won't be able to make any comparisons of them between the resorts but I thought the Grand Californian was pretty amazing. The Lobby will leave you in awe the first time you see it. It diffenitly puts the grand in its name. During Christmas time you can sometimes find Santa sitting at the Lobby tree and having photopass on this trip we really hoped we would See Santa today but he wasn't out at the time we were here.
We ventured outside and walked around some of the other public areas of the Hotel. Out by the pool area and even up to where the enterance to California Adventure is located at. For being practically inside a theme park we were really suprised by how quant and quite the Outdoor areas actually were. It was so relaxing and beautiful. Of course it would be an amazing experiance to stay here. Especially with a park view. However with very expensive nightly rates i'm sure thats something that will never happen. Still its worth checking out if your at the resort.
After checking out all the public areas of the Grand Californian we made our way back out to Downtown Disney and continued on our way. We next stopped in to the Ride Makerz and Build a Bear stores. I've always thought Ride Makerz seemed pretty cool. Especially since i'm into building and modifing cars myself. But again the prices seem to be so expensive that I couldn't justify actually building one. Although the slammed Mater kit seemed pretty cool. We just browsed thru Build A Bear and thought the Disney themed costumes were cute. It made us wonder if they would fit Daniels Duffy bear but we never bought one to try out.
The next store we stopped by was D-Street which is a lot bigger in California then it is in Florida. This is the shop that sells the Vinylmations which I find to be pretty cool. I hoped I would be able to find some more Tron ones to finish my set but I think they have been discontinued. Unlike Florida that only sells the Vinylmations though the Anaheim shop had all sorts of geek type loves such as a lot of Marvel and Star Wars merchandise.
We had finally made our way back to the Lego store which is always worth a look as they always have some of the coolest displays made out of Legos. Inside the store you'll find Lego mockups of the Hulk, Aladdin and Jasmin flying on the Magic Carpet, and Gandolff from the Lord of the Rings. That store was recently remodeled so it has a very similar feel to the Orlando version. Even down to the Disney displays outside featuring Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, and Sleeping Beauty.
Passing the Monorail station we were back at where we started from. Earl of Sandwich looked so good again and not packed at all but we wouldn't be eating there again this day. For the Holiday season and to promote the new Tinkerbell movie Disney constructed an ice rink in Downtown Disney. Although we never saw many people using it. Probably because the prices to do so were about 3 times the amount it is back home. They also had a "Christmas Village" set up but it was so poorly done that it wasn't even worth looking at.
At the end of Downtown Disney sits the Disneyland Hotel. So thats where we would go next. It was mentioned to us that the Fantasia Store at the Disneyland Hotel might have the Hoodie Kiera bought in the size she really wanted so we would at least be checking that out while we were here. Compared to the Downtown Disney stores the Fantasia store was dead. We were the only ones in there. But sure enough they did have the Hoodie in Kieras size so she exchanged the one we bought earlier for that one.
Since we were at the hotel we decided to look around it a bit. The Fantasia store is located inside the Fantasy Tower and also the Main lobby for the hotel is located here. Although the Disneyland Hotel might not be as classy or elegant as the Grand Californian I think I prefer it more. It seems more fun and Disney-esc to me. The hotel was recently remodeled and I loved all the retro decor and vintage Disneyland photos and art all around the Hotel. Theres even old ride vehicles.
We hoped that since we missed Santa at the Grand Californian that he would be here but he was also gone. Although I think the Disneyland Hotel had the best set up to meet Santa Claus out of the Hotels.
Before returning to Downtown Disney we walked thru the outdoor areas of the Disneyland Hotel but we never did go in the Frontier or Adventure Towers. The hotel grounds look great since the hotels remodel. I think the vintage Monorail Slides are a very nice addition to the pool area but overall i'm kind of dissapointed that they removed the Neverland pool that had such a unique Peter Pan overlay to it. Now its just a basic pool. The old Waterfalls are gone and in there place is a guyser that is a call back to the old Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland which was located where Big Thunder Mountain now sits. The Disneyland Hotel is also home to the Terrice and Trader Sams which I hear is a pretty fun experiance that we never got the chance to go to.
After walking around the Disneyland Hotel and back out to Downtown Disney we decided our time there was done. We had seen everything we wanted to see and walked thru some of the Hotels. The only Hotel we didn't go to was the Paradise Pier Hotel which is the cheapest of the 3 Disneyland hotels. It was just a short walk down the street form the Disneyland Hotel but we never made it down to it. The Ice Rink was more busy now though.
This was the first that we acually spent a lot of time at the Disneyland Resorts Downtown Disney. When we've gone to Orlando Downtown Disney is always a must visit no matter if we are going to WDW or not. Compared to the Florida version we have to say that the Florida Downtown Disney is much better then the Disneyland version (i've only known Floridas without the clubs). I like how its much larger and seems to have much more stuff going on and more unique dining opperunities. What I do like though about the California Downtown Disney is its close proximity to the parks and hotels. Once again the same reason why we love the Universal Orlando resort is because everything in the resort is within walking distance. Of course I still think Universal's Citywalks are done better.
We spent almost 3 hours in Downtown Disney by the time we finally left so we were getting pretty hungry. For lunch we decided on a California Must Go to In-N-Out Burger. Yes we have these back home in Utah now. But theres just something that didn't seem right about going to Southern California and not going to eat at In-N-Out. Plus I think it still taists slightly better then the ones we have back home. If you want some good fast food make sure you check out In-N-Out burger and get your burger and fries Animal Style.
Since we still had half the day left we decided to fall back on doing something that we looked in to but didn't give much thought to doing. We would go to Knotts Berry Farm. But not to go on any rides or attractions. During the Holiday Season they do a Christmas Craft Fair in the Ghost Town section of the park that is open for free to the public. Thats right FREE. From Mon-Thrusday you can get in to the Christmas Craft Village for no cost. Just don't plan on sneaking on any rides or to other sections of the park as they had many employees stationed at all rides and other section enterances checking if you were a paying guest or not.
We parked in the Knotts Marketplace parking which just like Downtown Disney gives you I think 3 hours of free parking. To get to the Christmas Craft Village you enter the park thru the Marketplace area instead of thru the main park gates. There were plenty of signs directing us to where we need to go. Walking in was very easy as there was an open gate and we were in the Ghost Town. The Ghost Town at Knotts might be the only area of the park that one ups Disneyland as the Ghost Town is much better themed then Frontierland. You actually feel like your walking thru the old west in a small town. Of course though all this amazing theming is thrown out the window when you see Roller Coaster supports intruding on the themeing as Knotts has just thrown there Coasters wherever they can find room not giving much thought to how it effects the theming of an area. Knotts has some great coasters but it really keeps getting built on top of each other.
Theres a building at the Craft Village called Santas Toy Barn where you can buy toys and also meet Santa himself. So we took Daniel to see Santa once again in hopes that he would eventually warm up to the big guy. He at this point was getting better but once he was put on Santas lap he wasn't having it. He wanted down right away. Of course he loved that candy cane he gets afterwards though.
During the Christmas season they also have demostrations taking place in the Craft Village such as a Chainsaw wood carver and some guys Doing Glass Sculputures the old way by blowing the glass. We never saw the Wood Carver demonstration but the Glass blowing seemed to be really cool.
We stopped by one of the shops and picked us up a little holiday snack. Some home made fudge. This is something we usually get during the Holidays that we hadn't yet so why not today. We ended up getting some Mint fudge and it was very delicious. And cheap too.
Although we couldn't go into the rest of the park you could see many of Knotts thrill rides towering in the distance such as the Silver Bullet, Windseeker, Excelerator, Extreme Scream, and so forth. Also some of Knotts classic attractions like the Calico Mine Train and Timber Mountain log ride were right next to the main plaza. Had we stayed in the park long enough we would have been able to see there nightly Christmas tree lighting in the main plaza as well as the Peanuts Gang Christmas parade but without rides to go on we couldn't find anything to keep us in the park longer then we were.
After making the full loop around the Ghost Town and looking at all the shops we wanted to we decided to call it a day and leave Knotts. The Christmas Craft Village was cool in the fact that it was free and you could enjoy some aspects of the park free of charge. Plus there were some unique gift ideas there. But it doesn't replace spending a whole day at Knotts. Knotts Berry Farm is a park that still really needs to find itself and balance out its themeing and Thrill Rides. I do wish we could have gone to the full park as there are some really great rides at Knotts but we couldn't justify the extra cost. If your in the area during the Holidays and are looking for something to do then check out the Christmas Craft Village as it really is a fun way to kill some time. Also check out the Marketplace shops on your way out.
Back at the Hotel we took advantage of the early evening and went again to the Hotel pool and Jacuzzi to relax. We weren't the only ones swimming though as there was another family swimming in the pool at this time. It was nice to relax in the hot tub after an easy day not trying to fit the parks in to one day.
For dinner tonight we decided to stay close to the hotel and keep it simple so we just went to a Panda Express that was down the street about a mile. The food is always good and filling. We ended up spending the remaining time of the day in our hotel room where we just watched some tv and went to bed early. We moved our final Disney day back 1 day so that we could have this rest day and avoid some forecasted rain. Although it was very nice to have the easy day and we were able to do things we couldn't otherwise (like visiting Knotts) it ended up not raining today. Instead the rain was now forecasted for Friday when we would be in the parks. I guess we could hope that the rain would miss us once again. Only time would tell.
Untill then we needed to get some sleep and rest up for our busy day tomorrow. We were about to do something we have never done before. We were gonna spend all day in the Disneyland Resort parks. 8am until Midnight. The 16 hour day that we originally didn't plan on doing would soon be upon us.
The big day was upon us. The 16 hour Disney day. The longest day we have ever spent in a theme park resort. As I mentioned before this day (Friday) was not originally intended to be a park day. Thursday was. However with rain forecasted on Thursday (which didn't happen) and long hours today (plus the added bonus of Fantasmic) we decided to switch our final park day to today. Of course it wouldn't all be a walk in the park though as rain was forecasted for today as well.
To make the most of our day we hoped to be at the parks again prior to opening. With a toddler though that means that goal didn't always happen. And such was the case today. Dispite being up at 6am again we didn't leave the hotel until almost 8am. The time that the parks would be opening today. We quickly got ready, ate breakfast, and thru on the Disneyland shirts that we bought for our family at Downtown Disney the previous day then We walked the nearly mile long walk from the hotel to the parks very quickly though and entered Disney California Adventure at about 8:15am.
We would be starting out our long day today in DCA because it was the park that we still had stuff to see in. Since we parkhopped over to Disneyland on our DCA day earlier in the week for a few hours we never got around to seeing everything we wanted to see. Upon entering the park we noticed that it felt significantly less packed then it did on Monday when we were here. Yes the park was already open when we arrived but we thought it would be much busier on a Friday. The mile long line for the Radiator Springs Racers fastpass line was just pass the Carthey Circle Theater when we arrived. The theater looked great this early in the morning.
Had we wanted to we could have hopped in the RSR fastpass line and got some Fastpasses for later in the day. But the fastpasses weren't our top priority today like it was on Monday. Although Radiator Springs Racers was. We thought the ride was great. The Best in DCA and one of the best Disney has put in any of its parks. But with how popular the ride is knew we would have to ride again early. So today we would attempt to ride it again via the Single Riders line.
As we stepped on to Route 66 and walked into Radiator Springs the lack of people echoed here as it did on Buena Vista Street. It was much less packed then it was on Monday. Had we wanted to at this time we could have walked on to Maters or Luigi's rides. The land looked great as well this early morning and with blue skys above we hopped for a great day ahead of us weather wise.
When we reached the entrance to RSR the standby wait was already up to 75 minutes but Single Riders only said about 5. I would go first so I entered the line and made my way towards the load area. I walked all the way to the ramps before I finally caught somebody else. There was no repeat of the first time we rode where the ride broke down and we waited over an hour for it to start back up and in just over 5 minutes time I was being loaded in to a vehicle.
No hicups so far as the ride started out. We passed the belt check and our scenic journey into ornament valley began. Something immdiatly seemed off though as the car kinda jerked a couple times. That was until it came to a complete stop right past the waterfall before entering the showbuilding. Although the views of the park were great from this area of the ride it wasn't great that we were stopped as RSR is known for frequently going down. We were stopped for about 4 minutes before the ride started moving again. I seriously started to think in that time that we would be evaced from the ride.
When the ride started back up we entered the show building and all the animatronics and effects seemed to be working fine. Well up until we got to the first Mator AA. The one that drives next to your vehicle until it eventually backs into a bush. Well it was nowhere to be found although the voice was though. When we reached that bush you could see the Tow truck stuck behind it. The 2nd animatronic worked though and we made it to the cow tipping scene until the ride once again stopped in its tracks. We saw the tipped tractors reset and then sat and waited for the ride to start again. Luckly this time we were only stopped for about a minute or so before the ride restarted.
For the most part the ride was smooth sailing from here. We rolled into Radiator Springs and this time the car drove in to Romoans Paint Shop (last time we got Luigi's) so I was happy to see both rooms. I think I liked Luigi's a little more though as the White wall tire effect is much better then the colored mist effect you get in Romoans to simulate the painting. When we pulled up to the starting line to race We were the only car there so for a moment I thought we would be the only ones. I quickly noticed that the Mouth projections on the Luigi Animatronic were also off to go along with the other ride problems. Soon another car pulled up though and our race began. This is the best portion of the ride as its so much fun especially with the racing aspect. I really wish it could be longer but I'll take what we can get. Again though the car I was in lost the race. We made a last scenic drive thru taillight caverns and then the ride was over.
Dispite the issues the ride was still a great ride and a lot of fun. I'm really glad we got to ride it once before though with a ride that was flawless as it really would have been dissapointing if this was our only ride on the thing. I'm sure hundreds of people a day have that experiance and with how long the line is for this ride they never get the chance to go on it again. Still RSR is a do not miss attraction and I can say that I think the Single Rider line first thing in the morning worked out much better and quicker then the Fastpass line did on Monday.
Upon exiting the ride I found Kiera and Daniel and switching off the child it was now Kieras turn to ride. She too entered the Single Riders line and into the attraction she went. While she rode I decided to take Daniel and go back to the RSR Fastpass distibution area in the off chance that Fastpasses were still avalible for later in the evening. Radiator Springs still didn't seem to be as packed as I thought it would be as we walked to the top of the street. As we were walking past the Cozy Cone Lightning McQueen was pulling out from his Meet and Greet so we stopped and watched. Daniel seemed pretty excited to see Lightning drive on past.
When I got to the RSR Fastpass Distribution area right outside of Bugs Land I wasn't just suprised the Fastpasses were still avalible. But I was also suprised that the time on them was at 1:55pm. I thought for sure anything left would be in the evening as I hoped to get a night ride on it. I pulled 2 fastpasses for Kiera and I to use later (since Single Rider would likely be much longer later tonight) and then walked back to Cars Land to meet up with Kiera.
Since I took many night photos of the new land our first night in the park I took the time walking back to take some daytime photos of the area. The attention to detail is so incredible. Seriously the best thing Disney has done in a long time. I still prefer the detail that you'll find at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but Cars Land will still leave you in awe.
I thought Kiera would be done by the time we got back to RSR but she wasn't. Apparently the ride had another minor break down so she still hadn't rode. So Daniel and I just waited around the attraction for her to finish. The Rockwork on the Cadillac Mountain Range is really what is so amazing about the land. I can't belive how realistic it looks. Eventually though Kiera did finish her ride but as with my ride the ride still wasn't at 100%. She mentioned Mater still wasn't working and her car raced alone instead of against someone else.
We rode Maters Junkyard Jamboree a few nights earlier when we were at DCA but we still hadn't rode Cars Land's 3rd ride. Luigi's Flying Tires. So thats where we went to next. The wait time was posted at 5 minutes so we figured it probably wouldn't get shorter then this. We got a Rider Swap card for Kiera which works just like Maters. I had to stand in the regular line until I rode. After I was done though Kiera could take the card and go thru the Alternate entrance with a much shorter wait. I was really impressed by the Que to Luigi's as you basically tour the tire showroom passing many of the tires he sells including is prized White Wall Tires. But Luigi is also a big Racing fan so you will find much memorabilia from F1 Racing and the World Grand Prix.
You exit the back of the shop and you are in a sort of Garden area where the "Festival of Floating Tires" is taking place. There are a few different design's cut into the bushes that are pretty cool. Eventually you reach a point where your devided into groups and then told how to make the tires move in the direction you want it to. Although the wait time said it was 5 minutes it was closer to 15 by the time I got to this point. Luigi's has an extremely low rider per hour capacity so be prepared to wait if you don't do it early.
After waiting your turn you're finally let us out onto the board to pick out our tires. I found one and quickly got belted in and was ready to ride. After collecting all the flags the air kicked on and our tires took flight. Many of you know this ride is a resurection of the old Flying Saucers Idea so I was really interested to see how it worked. Basically its like human Air Hockey. Just with about 20 extra pucks on the board. To make the Tires move you lean in the direction you want to go. But not too much or the tire will bottom out and make you loose momentum. After a couple minutes of leaning side to side it felt like I finally figured out how the Tire worked and was picking up some speed. Of course the ride cycle is only a couple minutes so by the time I figured it out the ride was over.
So how is Luigi's? Well the general concensious is that its the least favorite ride in Cars Land. And I think I would agree right now with that. Now I wouldn't say the ride is horrible and to skip it. You should try to ride it at least once as the ride is very unique and you won't find anything else like it anywhere. But right now I would say that Maters was the more fun ride. But I think that could change. If I rode Luigi's more and really got the hang of working the tire I think Luigi's has the potential to be the funner ride. Unfortunatly though you don't get enough time to really have the most fun you can on it. And with how slow loading the ride is its not something you'll want to stand in line twice for. So I like the ride. I just wish you had more time on it.
After my ride I exited and found Kiera and Daniel. She then entered the Alternate enterance and within 1 ride cycle she was in the next group to ride. As she waited to ride they brought Red the firetruck out who drove past us. Daniel got excited seeing him as well just like he did with Lightning earlier. Kiera was able to take a ride on the tires much quicker then I was and her thoughts were pretty much the same as mine regarding the ride. It would probably be a little funner if we could have gone on the ride together as well instead of switching off thru rider swap.
We had pretty much done everything now that we wanted to in Cars Land but there was still one more thing we wanted to do. We took Daniel to meet Lightning McQueen the other night. We still wanted to take him to meet Mater. So we swung over to the Cozy Cone Motel to see if he was out and to our luck he was. And the line was even shorter then it was for Lightning to meet him. We loved that during the Holiday Season that Mater had a Santa hat on. It seemed so fitting and was really cute. Daniel loved seeing Mater as we are pretty sure he is his favorite character from Cars.
One of our big goals for our final Disney day was to focus on taking Daniel to see Characters and also to find as many Photopass Photographers as we could. Especially since we were all wearing our Disneyland shirts. So we were excited to see after we were done meeting Mater that Red the Firetruck was still out and he also had a Photopass person with him. Although red wasn't decked out with anything Holiday themed like Mater he did play Christmas songs thru his horn. Parts of his body also moved and stuff which was pretty neat as well. We then went down to the Courthouse and got another picture there too as Daniel was asleep a few days earlier when we did.
After pictures we had finally seen everything in Cars Land so we moved on to another area of the park that we hadn't visited yet. A Bugs Land. This area is located right next to Cars Land and even has an enterance between the 2. Just head down cross street past Luigi's and you won't miss it. Theres even some route 66 style billboards telling you to stop by that is pretty unique.
Bugsland is a land that I have mixed feelings about. This was the first expansion of the struggling California Adventure Park when it first opened. One major complant about the new park was that there wasn't enough "Disney" and not enough things for kids and toddlers to do. So Disney's answer was a Bugs Land. Themeing wise I think the land is great. You really do feel like you've been shrunk down to bug size. I love the over grown grass and bushes and all the larger then life decor everywhere. They got the themeing right with this area. Thats for sure. They took what the imagineered with the Honey I shrunk the Kids playground in Orlando and made it much bigger. However the rides located in Bugs Land are what makes the area suffer the most. Instead of dropping in a couple original idea ride systems they went with all lightly themed off the shelf flat rides just like they did in Paradise Pier. The rides may be kid friendly but nothing about them scream Disney.
The first ride in the area that we rode was probably the most unique of all the Bugs Land rides. Its called Heimlichs Chew, Chew train. You climb on a train that looks like Heimlich the catapiller and he takes you on a ride past some of his favorite foods. You will pass Giant watermelon, Gram Crackers, and Candy Corn and one of the best parts of the ride is you can smell each of the foods you pass. This ride really could have been great and been basically an outdoor Dark Ride. But its short. Like way short. I was really suprised cause I remembered it being longer. Still its a cute little ride that had no wait to go on and kids seem to love it. It could have been better but its probably the best of the rides in the land. In my opinion anyways.
As we walked around the land we decided to skip out on 2 of the rides in the area. One of those rides is Francis' Ladybug Boogie which is basically a Teacup on a figure 8 track and the other is Tuck and Roll's Drive'em Buggies which are your run of the meal Bumper Cars. Which of course Daniel is still too small to go on. So we skipped these two rides as we went to our the next Bugs Land ride we would go on.
That next ride was Fliks Flyers. For being an off the shelf ride this one is actually themed alright. Its kinda like a swing ride as you get in a gondela that lifts you high into the air and then spins you around. The wait was basically a walk on and then our airborne adventure began. But Daniel did not like it. I don't know if was the spinning or being up high but it was not a ride that he cared for at all. He was very happy to get off of it.
As we exited the ride we noticed that Flik the Ant was out meeting guests right near us so we took Daniel to see him. We were suprised to find that Flik also had a Photopass Photographer with him. Daniel really didn't know what to think about Flik. He hasn't seen Bugs Life yet so he wasn't familiar with him and just didn't care much lol.
We had now done all the rides we cared to do in the Fliks Fun Fair section of the A Bugs Land. The rides are alright and kids won't care how themed they are. But for the most part its an area of the park that you can skip if you are pressed for time. Wether you decide to skip the rides or not though you should still at least take a stroll thru the area to check out the great themeing thats in place. Also look for the Toy Story reference as you walk into the area from its main enterance.
There is one more attraction thats part of A Bugs Land that is not contained within the Fliks Fun Fair area. Thats because this attraction is one of the originals to the park. Its the "Its Tough to be a Bug" 4d show. This show originally debuted as part of Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando but was cloned to California for this parks opening. I unfortunatly will not be able to compare it to the Orlando version though as the attraction was closed when we were there. We just so happened to visiting WDW the week that the Branch fell off the Tree of Life causing the attraction to be closed and also all the paths around the tree.
This show was pretty much a walk on. We just had a one show wait. I love the que as you wind down the path making it feel like you going far underground. The show waiting area feels like a tunnel far below the earth with roots sticking thru the walls. Theres also some spoof posters of plays or musicals that the bugs are putting on. Since we didn't get to do this show in Florida it had been 4 years since I had seen it. And honestly I forgot how good and cute the show is. It was alot of fun. Even for Daniel who wasn't wearing any glasses. There are some darker more scary parts of the show that I thought would scare Daniel but he did just fine. Basically the bugs no that your human and are doing a show that teaches you about the different bugs and how hard it can be for them sometimes. The show is good fun and something that you should see if you havn't seen it before. 4 years ago I would have said that Shrek 4d at Universal was the better 4d show. But having done Shrek so many times now I think that Its Tough to be a Bug is probably the stronger attraction of the 2. Still though i'd have to say that Muppetvision 3d is my all time favorite 4d style show.
After we finished with "its tough to be a bug" we retrieved Daniels stroller and walked towards Paradise Pier. Right outside the enterance to the area a large group had gathered so we stopped to see what was going on. It was the Phineas and Ferb Dance Party. And it even gets a holiday overlay. Those that read my Florida recap may recall that I love Phineas and Ferb and dispite being an adult I have the show set to record on the DVR. Since then Daniel has also taken a love to watching Phineas and Ferb as well. So I was kinda sad that they don't do Meet and Greets for them like they do in Florida at the Hollywood Studios. This little show is the only think in the resort that has the characters. Its a fun little show but not something to go out of your way to see.
We were on the hunt today for Photopass CMs and Characters. There were many in DCA but they seemed to not be located where you would think they would be. When we came in 2008 there was always a Photopass CM taking pictures on the bridge with Paradise Pier in the background. This trip though there was never anybody there. I thought that was pretty odd as Paradise Pier is one of the most photographed areas of the park.
Directly across the bridge there are 2 character locations though. One is for Duffy the Disney Bear but he wasn't out at this time. The other is where you can find Donald Duck and since he was one of the remaining Fab 5 characters we need to find we stopped to see him. He had a Photopass CM with him so I was able to get in on some pictures. By this point in the trip Daniel had finally started to warm up to charcters and was cute with Donald just like he was in Florida.
There was also a Photopass CM taking pictures infront of the Paradise Pier Christmas tree. Yes we got a photo here a few nights earlier but we figured we would get some during the day too so that we could make the most out of our Photopass+.
In the heart of Paradise Pier we found the area where the Toy Story meet and Greets are done. Its located pretty much across from the Toy Story Midway Mania ride right along the waters edge. Woody was out when we walked up so we got in line. Unlike in Hollywood Studios the charcters only come out one at a time so if you want to see them all you will have to make multipule stops. The wait to meet Woody was only about 5 minutes and Daniel loved seeing Woody while waiting in line. I loved the views you got across the Lagoon and also seeing the Screamin' Roller Coaster trains shoot past. Kiera put Daniel down again to see if he would run to Woody but he started to run away from him instead. Dispite being more warmed up to Charcters Daniel still wasn't too sure about Woody even though The Toy Story movies are the only things he watches over and over again.
While we were in Paradise Pier I figured now would be a good time to ride California Screamin' again. Kiera took Daniel to go ride the King Triton Carousel again and I went to ask for a Single Rider card. When I asked though the CM instead handed me a Fastpass card saying a guy just gave it to him saying he wasn't gonna use it. So I took it and entered the Fastpass line. Although on hindsight I think Single Rider would have been quicker. Even though both sides of the load station were in use the line still backed up, across, and down the stairs. Eventually though I boarded the train and was on my way. We pulled up for the launch and the countdown began. But at 1 nothing happened. We just sat there. Did the ride break down? I didn't have to wait long to find out though as about 10 seconds later the countdown started and away we went. The ride was amazing once again. I don't know what it is about this coaster but it is so good. I could ride it all day long.
Upon exiting I loaded my ride photo to our Photopass+ then found where Kiera and Daniel were waiting for me. It was Kieras turn to ride next and this time she did get a Single Rider card. Single rider is done kinda odd on Screamin as you get the card then walk to a completly area to wait. I guess the area is the same that is for those in Wheelchairs. You then wait on the load plateform before being directed to a train. Kiera was on much quicker then I was so Daniel and I waited by the Lagoon to see her launch.
While Kiera was on the ride I noticed over at the Toy Story meet and greet that Jessie was now out. We originally didn't plan to meet Jessie but I figured why not. Daniel and I went and got in line (which was much shorter then Woody's) and Kiera rejoined us right before it was our turn. Daniel had about the same reaction to Jessie as he had with Woody. He was excited but not nearly as much as we thought he would be. We still wanted to see Buzz though and found out that he would be the next one coming out as they rotate ever 30 minutes.
By this point in the day we were getting hungry for some Lunch. So with time to kill any ways until Buzz would be out we decided to go find something to eat. We made our way thru the rest of the Pier to the Paradise Garden Dinning area. We checked out what it had to offer. Mostly Pizza, Pasta, and Salad offerings and none of that really sounded too great to me. So we left the area and continued on thru the pier.
We passed by the Goofy's Sky School attraction that we skipped this time. The ride use to be known as Muhalland Madness and is just your typical run of the meal Wild Mouse coaster. Although the themeing is better since Goofy moved in the ride still wasn't that great. Honestly our Wild Mouse Coaster back home is better so I didn't have a desire to ride. Phenias and Ferb also cruised past while we were walking down the Pier.
Not far from Goofy's Sky School I found what I wanted for lunch. Corn Dog Castle. I had heard and read good things about this place and I just love Corn Dogs anyways so I figured I would give it a shot. I decided on the Hot Link Corn Dog. Before eating it though we made our way back to the Paradise Gardens where there was a Greek Salad that Kiera was interested in trying. We found a spot to sit and eat and enjoyed the area. There was a band playing and it wasn't packed at all. You wouldn't believe you were in a packed theme park. The Corn Dog was very good and I was happy with my choice. Its something I would have again. Kiera also enjoyed her salad.
Lunch took longer then we thought and we were almost near the time when Buzz Lightyear would no longer be out. So we quickly hurried back across Paradise Pier in hopes that he woud still be there. Luckly for us he was. But would we get thru the line quickly? It was now as long as it was when we meet Woody. But luck was on our side. We made it before Buzz left. The line moved much faster this time. Daniel actually got excited to see Buzz this time and was happy to see him. It was really cute. I guess that means Buzz must be his favorite.
After meeting Buzz we finished all we wanted to do in Paradise Pier. We still had more attractions that we wanted to see that we didn't earlier in the week so we started to make our way towards Hollywoodland. On our way out though we noticed that Duffy was now out. So we had to stop to see him as well. Now I know that not many people are fans of Duffy but we bought Daniel a Duffy Bear before he was born and he loves it. So he gets really excited seeing the character. We also loved that Duffy was dressed in Santa clothing.
Since we still had time to kill before the show started we went back to Buena Vista Street to kill the time. Like Cars Land, Buena Vista Street isn't lacking in Photopass CM's so thats what we would do to kill the time. There was a photographer by the Fountain in front of the Carthey Circle theater, by the Buena Vista Street Sign, Walt statue, and 3 around the DCA Christmas Tree. To make the most of our Photopass+ we stopped and took photos at all of them. I could sit and spend much time in Buena Vista street alone. Its so well detailed and theres just something so special about it.
Buena Vista Street is also where you will be able to meet Santa Claus. And what better place then in the Elias and Company Department Store. Just like you would back in the 30's. When we arrived though Santa was on a break. Luckly it was a short one though and within 5 minutes he was back. In addition to Santa he also had his elf helping him. And then the Buena Vista Street Carolers came in. It was pretty fun seeing all of this in the environment we were in. This was now the 5th Santa Daniel had seen this winter but he still hadn't warmed up to him. He wanted down the second we sat next to him. Of course he loved the candy cane the elf gave him though.
The attraction we were waiting for was one that we were only doing for Daniels sake. It was Disney Jr. Live on Stage. Daniel spends almost each morning watching Disney Jr. and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates are 2 of his favorite shows. So we knew we had to take him to see the show. When we finished with Santa the show was finally open and seating guests. Kiera took Daniel in while I quickly ran down to the Tower of Terror to get us some Fastpasses that we could use later in the day.
Hollywoodland is an area of the park that I do think is under rated. Yes there is a lack of attractions in the land. And yes the backlot area does hurt the area especially with all the Mad T Party stuff set up, and yes Monsters Inc. makes no sense whatsoever in the area. But the main street area I think works great. So great that it should have been designed as the original entry area to the park much like Hollywood Studios in Florida. I hope Disney works on this area next. Put another great ride in, and update the backlot area and it will be great.
I made it into Disney Jr. Live a few minutes before the show started. I found Kiera and Daniel sitting on the ground and as soon as the doors closed the show began. Know that this show is catered specifically towards toddlers so unless you have children fitting that demographic you can skip this show. The show is done thru puppetry and is actually kinda cute for what it is. It starts out with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse gang as they are gonna plan a birthday party for Minnie. However they need certain items for the party and thats where the other shows come in to play. After Mickey we next go to Handy Mandy. This is a show that Daniel has never seen before but he actually seemed to really like it. I mean whats not to love when your a toddler and theres music and fun characters on stage.
Next up was the Little Einsteins. This is a show that Daniel watches and enjoys and got excited to see. He clapped and laughed and danced. It was way cute. The final section of the show is Jake and the neverland pirates and Daniel really loved this. Almost as much as Mickey and the gang. The show concludes back with Mickey and his friends as they throw the party. Although the show is super simple and for kids it was another one thats worth it after you see your childs reaction. Next to World of Color I don't think there was anything else that Daniel enjoyed more then he did the Disney Jr. show. Totally worth it to see his reactions.
As we exited the show we noticed that Chip and Dale were out meeting guests dressed in there 1930's attire. The line wasn't long so we figured what the heck and got in line. Daniel LOVED them. This was the best character interaction he seemed to have the entire trip.
We had only one attraction left that we planned to do in DCA before heading over to Disneyland. When DCA originally opened it had one stand out attraction that was a home run hit. That ride has sense been cloaned at Epcot and is consistantly the busiest and most packed attraction in the entire WDW Resort. That ride is Soarin Over California. And in DCA the ride actually makes perfect sense. The ride sits in an area called Condor Flats which is themed as a desert airfield. The Soarin Hanger is front and center and themed as such. The best part of the California version is that unlike in Epcot the wait is horrendous. When we walked up a 10 minute wait was all that was posted.
I planned to get a Single Rider card for the ride but was advised by the CM that Standby would be just as quick. The que still isn't themed too much but its significantly better then how the Epcot versions line is themed. Theres a bunch of aviation themed pictures and models all thruout the hanger before you devided to whichever theater your going in to. The ride itself is exactly the same on both coasts. Which is pretty sad for Epcot. Its bad enough that the film is all based on locations in the state of California. But even the Epcot version ends at Disneyland. Florida really needs a new ride film that works better in Florida. And don't even get me started on the conditions of the 2 rides. The DCA version is in much better shape. The film looked to be in better condition and the screen wasn't dirty like it is in Florida. Although in my Opinion I still think Soarin is a pretty over rated ride and not worth the waits it gets in Epcot, its still something that should be a must ride not matter what coast your on. The ride is just set up and overall better in California.
While I rode Soarin, Kiera took Daniel to ride the Little Mermaid ride again which he just loves. With now wait on that ride though she would be waiting for me back and Soarin to finish. When I was done it was now her turn to ride. The line had grown since I went in so she actually tried using Single Rider and entered the Fastpass line with the Single Rider card where she would wait until someone needed a single rider. While waiting for her I was gonna take Daniel to ride Monsters Inc again. But decided instead to walk around some of the areas we I hadn't been to yet like the rest of Condor Flats.
Well if you havn't been to DCA before Condor Flats is very small. Infact it wasn't even its own land until the parks relaunch. Before that it was just a sub land of the Golden State land of the park that no longer exists. So I took Daniel and walked around the Grizzley Peak area as well. The signature ride in this area is the Grizzley River Run. A Rapid ride that takes you up and around the Grizzley Peak Mountain. I actually believe Grizzley River Run is a copy of Kali River Rapids at Disney's Animal Kingdom but features an additional drop. I wouldn't know though as I never got the chance to ride Kali River Rapids when in the Animal Kingdom.
We didn't ride Grizzly River run on this trip but it is a fun ride if you like Rapid type Rides. I don't think it was as good as Popeye at Islands of Adventure but it has the 2nd spot in my opinion. When warm i'm sure the ride would provide a nice cool down. Theres also a trail that runs up and around the attraction that we didn't see last time we were here in 2008 so thats where Daniel and I walked. It was calm and quite and felt like you were in the middle of a forest somewhere. This trail would be a great get away from the crowds if you ever needed to get away.
Although nothing major was changed in Grizzley Peak for the DCA remodel they did make a few changes. Gone was the extreme sport theme past old buildings on Grizzly River run and in its place was a restored more vintage look to the buildings and attraction. On the Redwood Creek Challange Trail Brother Bear was vacated and Russle and Dug from UP took over the play area. But that was about it. This area was already the best area in DCA before the remodel so it didn't nead much help anyways. As you may recall the Fastpass Distribution area for the World of Color show is located next to the Grizzley River Run Fastpass area. I didn't know if we'd be back in DCA or not but I pulled Fastpasses for a World of Color show anyways. I was still able to get them for the earlier show but in the Yellow section.
I returned to Condor Flats where Kiera still hadn't finished on Soarin'. I looked around the Fly n' buy and thought it was cool that there was an old Salt Flat racer in there. Eventually Kiera finally came out of the Soarin Hanger and we had finally finished everything we wanted to see in DCA. We still had Fastpasses that we could use for Radiator Springs Racers and also the Tower of Terror but wanting to ride RSR when it was dark I figured we would use both sets of fastpasses later in the evening since Fastpass return times at this point were not yet inforced.
We walked down Buena Vista Street and towards the parks exit to head over to Disneyland. But first we made a stop at guest services to get Daniel a First Visit Badge. He had one from when we went to Walt Disney World earlier in the year so we had to get a badge for the Disneyland Resort as well. Especially since he will likely never go to both US Disney resorts within 1 calender year again.
Our day wasn't even half way over yet when we entered Disneylands gates. But as you can see in the pictures the blue in the sky was gone and it had become overcast. We hoped that this didn't mean rain was gonna roll in like forecasted but we wouldn't know until it actually started or not. Right inside the Gate we founded the final Fab 5 character that we needed to find. Pluto. We were suprised though that Pluto didn't have a photopass photographer. Still Daniel really liked him and kept trying to grab his wiskers like he did in WDW.
Main Street was already pretty packed and it would only get worse as Southern California schools were getting out and the Parade starting within the hour. Infact many people were already staking out spots for the parade as we passed them walking down Main Street. Of course we were also still on the hunt for Photopass People and were finally able to get a photo in front of the Disneyland Christmas Tree. We didn't find any more photographers though until we got to the hub.
One really cool thing I found out on this trip was at the Photo Center on Main Street. By this point in the day my main camera was already dying. And the day wasn't even half way thru yet. I read online the night before that if you drop your camera battery off at the photo center they will charge your battery for free. So I decided to give this a shot. We stopped in the photo center on Main Street and I asked if they would charge it. Sure enough they did. It was great. Just make sure you take your charger to the park with you and your batteries can be recharged free of charge.
In the hub there were a bunch of photopass photographers. Although there were many possitioned around in front of the Castle there was only one that was in front of the Partners Statue. As we waited we almost weren't even sure if he was a public photopass person. The couple he was doing photos of at the time seemed like they were taking engagement photos and he was giving them advice and tips on how to pose for those types of photos. We serioulsy started to think the was a private photographer for them. But turns out he wasn't and it was soon our turn. We quickly found a photographer in front of the castle as well. It makes me sad though that we never were able to get a photo in front of the castle after Dark.
After we were done with the photographers we walked over to Tomorrowland so that we could pick up where we had left off a couple nights earlier. If you recall we were in line for Buzz Lightyears Astro Blasters when we realized the Fireworks started sooner then we thought. So we vacated the line never actually riding that night. So thats where we would be picking up. The wait was actually shorter now then it was that night we were waiting in line and only took about 10 minutes before we were in the building and boarding the ride.
The ride is pretty much the same as the Space Ranger Spin ride in Florida. This Omnimover Dark Ride is interactive as your helping Buzz Lightyear stop the Evil Emperor Zurg. The big difference here though is that the blasters aren't mounted to the vehicle like it is in Florida so you have more freedom to shoot where you want. The ride is a lot of fun and should be seen at least once. Although we think that Toy Story Mania is the better shooter ride of the two I thought the Disneyland Version of Buzz is better then the Magic Kingdoms version. Daniel really liked the ride being a Toy Story fan and although it was close Kiera once again beat me. That means she has never lost at ether Buzz or Toy Story in the California Parks where I have never lost at Buzz, Toy Story, and even Men in Black in the Florida Parks.
One our must do's today was to see the Christmas Fantasy parade. Do the Candlelight processional taking place nightly this year the parade ran much earlier in the day. And we were about 20 minutes away from the final parade taking place. We walked around further in to Tomorrowland and I stopped and grabbed a Fastpass to use on Star Tours later in the day. We rounded the Tomorrowland Terrece and headed towards the Matterhorn. Knowing Main Street would be rediculously packed for the parade we figured we'd find a better spot up here. And sure enough we did right next to the Matterhorn.
As we waited for the parade to start the high school bands came marching past. I don't recall this happening in 2008 but i'm sure thats because we watched the parade at night back then. There were 3 high schools that came by before the actual parade started. This was also the only time we ever put Daniels Mouse Ears on. Daniel doesn't like to wear hats so he has never really worn the hat we bought him at WDW earlier in the year. It didn't stay on long. lol.
Finally the music for the parade kicked on over the speakers and the parade was making its way towards us. A Christmas Fantasy Parade obviously only runs for the Holiday season. All of the floats and characters in the parade are themed in holiday outfits and decor and the parade has a few different segments. Each segment has a book at the beginning so it obviously is telling a story. I'm just not sure what the story is. The first portion featured Duffy, Donald and Daisy Duck, and also Mrs. Claus.
The next segment is brought in with Winnie the Pooh and Tigger crusing around on there sleds. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are Ice Skating on a pond while poor Eeyor brings up the rear walking with his wrecked sled.
Next up is a Gingerbread type Display with Goofy and his Son Max. This portion goes to show how old this parade is. I'm not sure many kids know who Max is today.
Then comes the Princesses. The Evil Step Mother from Cinderella and the Step Sisters start the segment before the Princesses come in Dancing with there Prince's.
The next and last part features toys and is Started out with Chip and Dale. Then comes floats with Woody, Pinocchio and Geppeto, and Buzz Lightyear who make way for the final float of the parade. Led in with 8 raindeer. The float features Santa Claus and is the ending to the parade.
You can't go to Disneyland and Not see a parade. Same goes for the Magic Kingdom in Florida. In my opinion its part of the Disney experiance. I can't compare the Christmas Fantasy parade though to any of Disneylands other parades though since i've only seen this parade on my last 2 visits to the resort. I think the parade is good for what it is and the music is great. Its a fun festive parade that gets you in the Christmas spirit. And Daniel really enjoyed it.
After the Parade you could really start to feel how much heavier the crowds were getting. With school out for the day and the start of a weekend many locals were starting to arrive. The park was getting crowded quickly. To add to it the Sky was getting Darker constantly starting to tease a rainfall at any moment and the temperature was starting to drop. Daniel quickly fell asleep for a nap in his stroller after the Parade so we headed towards Splash Mountain so Kiera could ride it since she didn't a few nights earlier when I rode it. But first we made a stop in Frontierland where I pulled a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain to use later.
The crowds were really bad as we walked by New Orleans Square. The Haunted Mansion had a 1 hour wait time posted. The longest we'd seen the entire trip. We managed to push our way thru though to a empty Splash Mountain. Instead of walking the main line though Kiera opted to do the Shorter Single Rider Line located near the attractions exit and basically walked right on to the ride.
Had Daniel not been asleep I would have taken him on the Winnie the Pooh ride again while we waited. But since He was asleep and not wanting to disturb him I did the next best thing. We went to the Pooh and Friends meet and Greet. There was a short wait and first up to meet was Tigger. He was great with Daniel and the interaction was really cute as he acted to be very quite with the Sleeping Toddler and gave him kisses.
Next up was old Eeyor who was also very cute with Daniel. It was funny how well these characters reacted to a sleeping child.
The Last character was Winnie the Pooh and he was the only one of the 3 that actually had a photopass photographer with him. He also was very cute with Daniel Sleeping.
Kiera still wasn't done on Splash when we finished with the Pooh meet and greet. And we finished right in time as when we exited with Winnine the Pooh, Rabbit and Piglet came out to switch with Tigger and Eeyor. Brer Fox who is from Splash Mountain and song of the south also came out behind Rabbit and Piglet and it was very funny to watch the interation between all of them as Brer Fox was chasing and teasing Rabbit and Piglet. I wish I had the video camera out as it was pretty funny to see.
We waited only a short time longer until Kiera was finished on Splash Mountain. When she exited the ride we loaded her ride photo and then we left Critter Country. As you may know Splash Mountain is my favorite Disney ride so why didn't I ride it again at this time? Well I figured I would try to ride it again late at night. I wanted to try to get a log to myself with nobody else in it so I figured I would try late at night. I hoped it would be something I would get back to as the night ride I had on it a few nights earlier was one of the best i've had.
Sorry for the late updates everyone. But I'm finally back. The last month consumed me as I prepared (and pulled off) the largest Automotive event in Utah then right after We went on another vacation to Charleston and Myrtle Beach South Carolina (trip report to come after this one is complete). So sorry but Now I should be able to get this thing finished up. With that said on with the report.
Day 7, Part 4: Disneyland Resort
As we walked out of Critter Country and towards New Orleans square much to our dismay the dark sky's started to open up and some sprinkling of rain had started to come down. It wasn't too bad though and at the time it was still barable. New Orleans square was very packed. The most packed I had seen any place in the parks this whole trip. It was obvious now that the locals were piling into the parks for an evening of fun.
We managed to push our way thru the crowds though and into a still packed and tight Adventureland. We came to Adventureland cause I really wanted to get another ride in on the Indiana Jones Adventure. The wait posted was over an hour but since it was just me and Kiera today I would use the Single Rider line. Now i've gone thru many single rider lines between the Universal and Disney parks. But I have to say that the Single Rider line for Indy was the most odd and confusing I had ever seen. You enter the Single Rider line by actually walking thru the attractions exit the majority of the way. All the way up until you get to the film room. Here you are stopped by a CM as the Single rider line will cross over the regular line. There were quite a few people in front of me at this point and I started to think the Single Rider line would still be a 30 minute wait.
Finally though traffic was stopped and we all were allowed to continue on until the line reformed waiting for the elevator to cross over to the load platform. Then it was another wait for the 2nd elevator to go back down. I told you there were a ton of people in this line but I guess its also the line for those guests needing assistance as when we got off the elevator we were devided out and there ended up only being 5 of us in the single rider waiting area. In total by the time I was loaded onto a ride vehicle I had waited 12 minutes in line. The ride was great as always and with its referb just completed a week earlier almost all of the effects were working. All except the issue I had earlier in the week where it seemed the lighting on the boulder was off and not working right. Although the boulder was rolling.
As I made the long walk back and exited the ride I found Kiera and Daniel waiting in one of the nearby shops. The rain picked up more while I was on Indy so they went to find cover. The rain was back to a light sprinkle though when I returned. I asked Kiera if she wanted to ride Indy as well but she didn't want to. So we went back to New Orleans square to walk thru it again with the Christmas Lights turned on and to get some photos.
Remember earlier I mentioned I grabbed a Fastpass for Thunder Mountain? Well thats where we would be heading next. The stand by line was much longer then it was earlier in the week so this time I made certain that I remembered to grab a Rider Swap Card before boarding the ride. I went first and as I waited in line the sky once again opened up and it started to rain harder. The ride was still opperating though and so I got the Rider Swap Card, boarded the train, and away I went on this wild train ride. In the rain. Now I've rode a lot of roller coasters in my day. I think my coaster count is up to around 45 now. But I don't recall ever riding any in the rain like I did on Thunder Mountain this night. The experiance was pretty fun and unique. I mean first of all Thurnder Mountain is a great ride as is but riding it after nightfall makes it even better. But then add the rain it was way fun. Luckly the rain wasn't coming down hard enough to hurt as you raced down the track but it still tingled. As I got off I found Kiera and Daniel hiding beneath a tree. I gave Kiera the rider swap and away she went and also had a ride in the rain.
After our wet rides we walked down Big Thunder Trail and into Fantasyland which was packed with people. We were making our way to "its a small world" to see if we could take cover from the rain on that ride. Well everyone else had that idea too as the ride had its extended que set up with an hour wait posted. Needless to say we didn't ride. We were also dissapointed to find that there were still not photopass photographers out in front like there was in 2008. I don't know if there ever was or if they dissapeared during the rain.
With it cold, the rain coming down, no photopass photographers anywhere (even the castle ones were gone), and Disneyland Park getting very packed we decided it was time to leave the park and hopefully find smaller crowds over in DCA. We stopped by Main Street Photo to pick up my now charged batter for our newer, nicer camera and then made our way down Main Street to the parks exit. There were many people also leaving the park as I'm sure they didn't want to deal with the rain. The Candlelight Processional area was empty as the rain cancelled all the performances that evening.
But not everyone was leaving the parks to go back to there hotels. Many of them had the same Idea we did and were going to DCA. The lines to get in were long and it figures that after waiting out the lines they would open 2 more turnstyles right as we were entering the park.
We knew once we were on Buena Vista street that there were a few things we wanted to do. We needed to find something to eat for Dinner and we wanted to get out of the rain for a little bit. After looking over the map and the touringplans.com app we decided to give the Fiddler Fifer and Practical Cafe. This is a counter service location that you can find at the end of Buena Vista Street. But its better known as being the first restaurant in a Disney park to get a Starbucks location. It was nice to walk indoors and get out of the the rain and cold for a little bit. Unfortunatly though everyone else had the same idea. Especially since it was during Dinner hours anyways. The place was packed. Still we got in line and waited it out. It actually seemed like most people were getting a warm Starbucks Coffee to drink and warm up to. Still the line dragged but we were finally able to order. I decided to get the Roast Beef and Cheddar and Kiera got the Chicken Tortilla soup to warm herself up. We also got Daniel a Milk as it was about time for another bottle. The food was actually really good and even now I still find myself craving that Sandwich as it was extremely good. We were also shocked to see the Starbucks prices no more expensive then there normal locations. This is a place we would eat at again.
As we walked out of the cafe and back on to Buena Vista street it was a relief to see that the rain had let up somewhat and wasn't too bad anymore. Even the Photopass Photographers were back out now with there cameras covered in ponchos. We got some night time photos with the Carthey Circle Theater and then continued onwards into the park towards Carsland.
Daniel was starting to get a little fussy not only being cramped up in his stroller but having to be in the plastic poncho bubble we rigged around the stroller as well. Since all the regular spots where we could let him out and run around and play were soaking wet we decided to go to the Baby Center instead. In DCA the Baby Center is located almost in the middle of the park in the Pacific Warf Area. Its pretty much right on the border of Carsland as well and directly next to the Gheradeli location of the park. Since it was right next to Gheradeli we decided to stop in and take a look around first. It was nice to get a free Pepperment Chocolate square as we entered. The store is really cool and watch the San Fransisco animation on the wall for some cool effects. We left empty handed though.
Since the rain had stopped now and while Daniel was out and playing in the Baby Center I figured now would be a good time to use the Radiator Springs Fastpasses that we got earlier in the day. I wanted to take a night ride on the attraction and thats why I pulled the Fastpasses in the first place. Our return time was at 1:45pm but since Disney wasn't enforcing Fastpass Return Times yet we could use them any time. I left Kiera and Danny at the Baby Care Center and walked down Route 66 towards the Racers. Once again Carsland is incredible and breathtaking after nightfall. The place is great during the day. But its even more incredible after nightfall once all of the neon lights come on. And something about the wet ground made it even better. I took this time to walk thru the Doc Hudsen Hospital portion of Flo's (they are connected) since I didn't earlier and this is the where you can see the Piston Cups he won back in the 50's.
There was something I had forgotten though that I remembered as I strolled down Route 66. Radiator Springs Racers already seems to have problems as it is. But it really has issues whenever theres a little bit of rain fall. And we have had a lot of rain so far tonight. Sure enough at the intersection of Route 66 and Cross St. there were CM's letting people know that the Racers were down and they had no ETA on when they would be running again. Infact they had even cleared out all of the que so nobody was even waiting anymore. My hopes of ridding again were quickly going out the window. Since I wouldn't be riding RSR I walked down Cross Street instead towards the Pacific Warf to get some night photos of the Cadillac Mountain Range which is always an amazing site. It was weird though hearing silence instead of the Racers racing by.
The Pacific Warf area is just a large area for Counter Service food. But the place was practically a ghost town since all of the seating is outside and with the cold and wet conditions i'm sure 90% of people went to indoor locations to find food. I made my way back to the Baby Care Center where Daniel was having a blast running around and climbing on chairs. I told Kiera that RSR was down and instead we should go use the other Fastpasses that I pulled earlier in the day. We cut down thru Carsland, Past the Luigi Tires which were still running in the light rain (that could be an interesting ride) and into Bugsland. Of course we were just walking thru Bugsland though as our destination was in Hollywoodland. We were heading for the Tower of Terror.
As you recalled I also pulled Fastpasses for the Tower of Terror earlier in the day that we hadn't used yet. As I walked toward the Fastpass entrance for the attraction Kiera took Daniel further into Hollywoodland to go to the Animation building to go see Turtle Talk with Crush. This was the first time I had encountered any sort of issue using a Fastpass late as when I handed it to the CM he told me that since it was expired he really shouldn't let me use it. But then he said that he will let it go for now but just know that starting at the beginning of the year they would start enforceing the return time. I'm glad I got to go thru but there was only a half truth to what he said. It had been reported for months that Tower of Terror CM's were saying that. Always starting at the beginning of the following month. I guess they finally got it right though once they did start enforcing the return time.
I walked right into the Lobby of the abandoned hotel and strait into the preshow room with no wait. But the boiler room was a different question. The wait was pretty much backed all the way up the door. And unlike earlier in the week they had both levels open and in use. I waited probably 15 minutes in the Boiler room before I was finally boarding the elevator for my trip to the Twilight Zone. This ride is great and this was the first time I rode the attraction (on ether coast) after complete nightfall. It was very fun and added to the erieness to the ride. Of course the Florida version is much better but still don't miss out on it. On my way out of the ride I stopped to load my photo to the photopass+ card. But I didn't just load mine. I was also able to load my cousin and her families photo from a few days earlier as well.
I meet up with Kiera in the lobby of the Animation Building. Kiera said that Daniel started to act up a bit during Turtle Talk as he just wanted to run around so they ended up leaving the show early so that he could just run around in the large Animation lobby. We let Danny run around for a little bit and then we exited the building so that Kiera could go take her ride on the Tower of Terror. Interestingly though nobody told her anything about using the Fastpass late.
While Kiera rode the Tower of Terror I took Daniel to walk thru the Mad T Party Dance Party thing. Disney started doing these Night time partys to keep people entertained until World of Color started but this temporary event turned into a big success so Disney continued doing them. This is the 3rd version of the party and being a big Tron fan I was dissapointed to see ElecTRONica replaced as I never got to see it. Still I was interested to see how this party would be as the infastructure really is out of place and in the way during the day time.
I thought the environment was actually pretty cool. All of the lights and props and decor works well at night and its a very fun atmosphere. When I walked into the area the live band was playing some Christmas songs up on the stage and they were even dressed as if they were characters from Alice in Wonderland. One thing though that was very distinct smelling was the Alcohol. Theres only one other time I had smelt Alcohol in the air that badly before in a Theme Park and that was during Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida.
You may not notice it during the nightime (its even kinda hard to notice during the day time too) but there still a ride open back here in the Hollywoodland backlot even when the Mad T Party is going on. It is Monsters Inc and a ride that Daniel just loved earlier in the week. Really nobody notices it during the Dance Party as when Daniel and I entered the line we were the only people we saw in the whole line. There was nobody else. We walked strait on to the ride. It was fun and Daniel had a blast. We could have probably rode this thing 3 times strait if we weren't needing to meet back up with Kiera soon.
As part of the Dance Party they also had a building called the Mad Arcade open. Inside were a bunch of old Video Games that i'm sure went over better when it was Flynns Arcade during ElecTRONica. If you have a buck to spare though cash it in for some of the tokens. They are custom made for the arcade and are pretty cool to keep as a souvanier.
We soon Meet up with Kiera after her ride and were ready to leave Hollywoodland. But she still hadn't been in the Mad T Party area so we walked back thru there before leaving. The live band wasn't playing anymore but there was this weird bendy thing doing some sort of show on a different stage. It was oddly cool to see. After walking thru the area we exited Hollywoodland and started making our way back to Carsland one last time.
Since we would soon be leaving DCA for good to finish our night at Disneyland we stopped back in to Carsland to get a few things before leaving. One of things I wanted was a Cone Cup from the Cozy Cone so thats where we headed first. I mentioned earlier that we tried the Reds Apple Freeze drink and wasn't too impressed with it. Well its not the only Special Drink that was created for Carsland so I was excited to try something else and to get it in the cone cup. Well I hate to break it but you can't get any of the Special Drinks in the Cone Cup. You can only get regular soda and thats it. So I ended up paying $9 for a soda. Disney really missed the mark on this one as I think the specialty drinks should be marketed with the special cup. Oh well though. I decided to get the Christmas Version instead of the regular one.
As we were walking thru Carsland we figured we might as well check if RSR was back up yet. And we were in luck. IT WAS RUNNING. And it had just barely reopened. The standby was less then 30 minutes which was the shortest we had seen it. We wouldn't need to do the Standby though as we still had our Fastpasses from earlier to use. Since I went on the Tower of Terror first I let Kiera go first on the Racers. While Kiera went to ride I took Daniel with me to look around the shops to see if there was any last items I wanted to pick up. We spent most of the time looking around Ramone's and Daniel really thought the Tire Hats were really cool. He actually loved and wanted to play with a lot of the Cars merchandise.
Kiera soon returned from her ride and it was my turn. I took my fastpass and entered the line and walked strait to the merge point with no wait. But then I started feeling drops of water hit my head. The rain started again. And now I was scared as I knew what happened earlier in the day to this ride when the rain started to come down. Dispite the rain starting though and it getting harder the line didn't slow down. The ride was still running. And finally after about 10 minutes I was loading into a car to start my Night ride on Radiator Springs Racers in the rain. This ride is incredible at night. I can't recommend it enough to make sure you get on this thing after dark. I mean the ride is conistant and makes since as its dark outside and all of the indoor scenes are at night time as well. The Rain may have been coming down but everything in this ride was working perfectly this time. None of the problems that I experianced earlier this morning were present. The ride worked great. My car once again went into Romans to get repainted before our big race. A race which is amazing in the dark as you race past the lite up mountains. Although I struck out on all 3 rides and was never in a winning car.
Since we were able to get our final rides on Radiator Springs Racers we missed out on some of the other things we wanted to do. We wouldn't end up seeing World of Color again even though I pulled Fastpasses for it. We also would miss the first showing of Fantasmic over in Disneyland. The rain returning wasn't helping much ether. We now walked down Route 66 one last time as we were about to return to Disneyland to finish our night. We stopped in the shops along the way and ended up getting a Postcard from Radiator Springs Cureios.
The rain was coming down and the ground was soaked and Kiera was cold so before making the walk back to Disneyland we stopped back over at Gheradeli's to get a Hot Chocolate. We also got some Chocolate Squares again. The Hot Chocolate was very good and diffenitly hit the spot on this cold, wet night.
We walked down Buena Vista Street one last time. Hearing the Old Christmas Music playing thru the area, seeing the tree and all the stores lite up with Christmas Lights, and seeing the exciting Displays in the store fronts. The new DCA is an amazing Park and finally worthy of the Disney name. The little park that could has blossumed into a Disney Park so good that only Disneyland itself is better then it in my opinion. Good times were had with our time in the park and I look forward to when we get to return again.
As we left DCA we were in a rush to get back to Disneyland. As you recall we originally planned our final day at Disney to be on Thursday. However one of the reasons we changed it to Friday was so we could see Fantasmic! It was one of our favorite shows from Walt Disney World and hearing the Original Disneyland version was better made it something we really wanted to see. We stayed in DCA longer then we originally planned though getting our late rides on Radiator Springs Racers and already missed the first showing of Fantasmic that was scheduled at 9pm. We were now rushing to make the 10:30pm showing and we had 20 minutes to get there. That of course was if the show hadn't been cancelled with the rain coming down.
When we reentered Disneyland Park I asked the CM's at the gate if they had heard if Fantasmic had been cancelled or not. Luckly for us they said the show was still going to happen. We entered a not too packed Main Street as the majority of guests had already left the parks to avoid the rainfall. Since we had a few minutes to spare until the show started we stopped and got some more photopass pictures with the Christmas tree as the photographers were out in the rain still. This happened to be the only time we ever saw a photopass Photographer out in front of the castle after nightfall. Of course though it was a time where we didn't have any more time to stop so that we could make showtime. We figured we would hit it up after the show.
As we approched the Rivers of a America though we were in for a suprise. There was music coming from the river. The Mist Screens were on and images were projected on to them. I though to myself this must be some sort of pre show or something. I mean it was only 10:23 (according to my time stamp). The show wasn't even suppose to start for another 7 minutes. That though quickly went away though as the Sailing Ship Columbia came around the bend with Peter Pan and Hook battling it out. This scene is not part of the Florida version of the show but its something people really enjoy in California. It wasn't as excited as I thought it would be though but I assume thats because they weren't swinging around like they normally would do the rain.
We found a spot close to the shore to watch the rest of the show as I tried to figure out why the show started already. Maybe it was the first show that got delayed. Maybe the cancelled the first show all together and just did one show earlier. I never knew the exact reason but it was sad to have missed the first part of the show. From this point the show was pretty similar to that in Florida. Of course though the viewing wasn't as good and there isn't a mountain. However It seemed like everything was much more in your face and up close then it got in Florida.
The big Climax of the show where Mickey faces off with the Dragon was much better in California though. Gone is the cheap and crappy looking puppet dragon and in its place is a full Animatronic that rises from nowhere for the battle. The dragon was very cool and pretty convincing unlike the one in Florida that really needs to be updated.
At the end all of the characters come out on the actual Mark Twain Riverboat instead of the cartoony looking one thats used in Florida. This was another thing I liked as again it was much closer and seemed like there were many more characters onboard then there were in Florida.
The show was good but it wasn't without its faults. It did seem shorter then the Florida version and of course the viewing area sucks compared to Orlando as its all standing room. Its something that you probably need to get to very early to get a prime viewing spot. So which one is better? I don't think I can make that comparisson right now. With the show starting earlier then scheduled and obviously running in a modified rain version of the show I think I need to see it again before I can rightfully compare the two. Still I don't think its something you should miss.
We were wet and cold after watching the show. And Daniel was hungry for his final bottle. We made our way back thru Adventureland and to the Hub where we hoped we could get that night photo with the Castle from a photopass photographer. But of course it would be our luck that by the time Fantasmic! was over all the photopass photographers had dissapeared. So we walked over to the Baby Care Center where Daniel could get warm and eat in comfort.
While Kiera feed Daniel I decided to head over to Tomorrowland where I could use the Fastpass that I pulled earlier in the day for a final ride of Star Tours. Suprisingly the wait to ride was still about 15 minutes in the Fastpass Line. I'm guessing because many people were using there expired fastpasses from earlier in the day (like me) and also taking cover from the rain by doing indoor rides.
Eventually though I was finally outside my gate for my galaxy flight. I boarded the Starspeeder and were soon on our way. We didn't get far though until the Ship was stopped by some Storm Troopers who were looking for a rebel Spy. We fought ourselves away and jumped to light speed where we found ourselves on the Planet of Tantooine and get caught up in a Pod Race. After winning it was back to space where we got an incoming message from Admiral Acbar informing us to protect the rebel spy on board. After the jump to light speed again we found ourselves on Couresant dodging other space craft on the planet that is all a city. Where we arrived safely at our destination. It was another great ride and continues to prove to me that it is now my favorite Motion Simulator. Although i'm pretty sure this was the exact same ride I got one one of my rides in Orlando.
After my ride I walked thru an empty Tomorrowland and decided to check around "Its a Small World" again in hopes that maybe, just maybe there would be a photopass photographer out there. But as I made my way in that direction I got distracted by the Materhorn.
The rain was coming down hard but the Materhorn was still running. And the best part was there was litterally no line to ride. Since there was no line I figured what the heck and hoped in the Tomorrowland side line and walked strait on to the bobsled. I had the sled all to myself as I guess some people don't want to ride a roller coaster in the rain. This would now be my third ride in the rain haha. The ride was a lot of fun even though the rain did somewhat sting as it hit your face going high speeds. The Tomorrowland side of the ride also felt much smoother then the Fantasyland side which we rode earlier in the week.
With my side diversion completed I made my way back to Its a small world but there were no photographers present. I soon got a call from Kiera saying Daniel was done and now asleep. With less then 15 minutes to go until park closing we decided to get one more ride in. I told Kiera to meet me at Pirates of the Caribbean which would be our final ride of the trip. I cut thru Fantasyland to get there and wished I had a tripod as the wet ground and an empty park would have made for some amazing pictures.
I got to the attraction a few minutes before Kiera and Daniel did. He was asleep when they arrived but he was so tired that he stayed asleep as we took him out of the stroller and entered the empty que. There was nobody else in line and we walked right on to the attraction. This would be one of the most errey rides we've had as we were in a boat all to ourselves and none of the other boats around us had anyone in it. It was like we had the ride all to ourselves. The AC was also blowing strong inside the attraction which when mixed with our wet clothes made for a chilly ride. It was still way fun though and a great way to end the day. By the time our ride was over the park was officially closed for the night.
Daniel was still asleep as we loaded him back into his stroller and put the poncho over it to protect him from the rain. The 16 hour day had been completed. And we were tired. Needless to say we didn't stick around any longer as we pretty much be lined it out of the park after our ride on Pirates. We didn't stop at any shops. We quickly walked down Main Street and towards the exit. I did make a quick stop by guest services though to get another first visit pin for Daniel as he managed to break his earlier.
The 16 hour day was fun but I don't know if its something we would want to do again. It was a very, very long day. I don't know if it would have been better without the rain or not though. Still i'm glad that we were able to accomplish it no matter how tired we were afterwards.
This was possibly the quickest walk back to the hotel we had. We finally had an end point in sight and could get out of the rain for the rest of the night. I swear we made it back to the hotel in like 10 minutes as we practically speed walked the entire way. Once there we all quickly got ready for bed and had no issue at all falling asleep. The busy day was over. We only had one full day left of vacation. And the only thing we knew for sure was that we would be sleeping in and trying to recover from the 16 hour day in Disneyland.
I've been lurking here for a really long time and just wanted to tell you, I really am enjoying your trip report!
*September 1994-First visit to Disneyland* *July 2005-First visit to WDW (with a bun in the oven!)* *June 2012-Disneyland vacation (first time with my hubby and daughter)* [*Upcoming] October 2013-Anniversary trip to DLR with the hubby* [*Future Visit] July 2014-Family trip to DLR*
Today was our final full day in Southern California. We had just survived our 16 hour day in the Disneyland Resort so dispite sleeping in for as long as Daniel would allow us to we still took it easy today.
Frankly we didn't have anything planned at all for our final full day in Southern California. We still had a day at Sea World in San Diego on our City Passes that we could use. But we didn't feel up to the nearly 2 hour drive to get there. Plus by the time we finally got moving for the day it was around 2pm. It would have been fun and i'm sure Daniel would have loved seeing the sea life but being exhausted from the theme parks, the long drive, and now short day we figured it just wouldn't be worth it.
I looked for ideas of what we could do on the internet while Kiera and Daniel got ready. It could be cool to go see the Space Shuttle at the science Musium in LA but then I found it was already sold out for the day. Maybe Hollywood? No we will do that tomorrow. I eventually came across a trolly tour of Beverly Hills that sounded like it could be fun. It was only $5 a person and about a 45 minute tour of the famous landmarks and some celebrity homes. So thats what we decided to do.
As I mentioned before it was nearly 2pm by the time we started our day. We grabbed some Jack in the Box (one of my favorite Fast Food locations that we don't have in Utah) thru the drive thru and then started what we thought would only be about a 45 minute drive to Beverly Hills. Well we were wrong. Traffic was HORRIBLE this Saturday afternoon heading in to the LA area. In total it took us nearly 2 hours to get to Beverly Hills. Maybe the drive to Sea World in San Diego wouldn't have been so bad after all.
We eventually made it to Beverly Hills though. As we drove down Santa Monica Blvd we passed the Los Angeles LDS Temple and soon we were in the heart of Beverly Hills. There were many parking garages next to Santa Monica Blvd but with the many one way streets that ran around the city it was kind of difficult to get in to some of the garages as they too only had one enterance and exit. Finally we figured it out though and got the car parked. The rates were more reasonable then I thought they would be as well.
The parking structure we were in was located about 2 blocks from the famous Rodeo Drive. Thats the street we were heading to as thats where the Trolly Tour would be departing from. The roads many trees were decorated with Christmas Lights and decor just as many of the High End Retailers store windows were. For being a Saturday afternoon though the street wasn't nearly as packed as I thought it would be.
Before starting the Tour we wanted to make a bathroom break so we stopped in to a small shopping area. This place was deserted. It was kind of errie actually and possibly one of the most complicated areas to find your way around. We practically went up and then back down to the bottom to find the restrooms. Luckly they were still open.
It was now a quick walk to the main part of Rodeo Drive where we would meet the trolley. The trolley was scheduled to leave at 5pm and that would be the final tour of the day. No worries though as it was a short walk and we made it on time. Infact we were the 2nd group on the trolley.
For the Holiday season it was advertised that the tour would be given buy Mrs. Claus. And sure enough she was on the trolley. But in addition to her there was also a regular tour guide as well. The Trolley was soon loaded and we began our tour driving around the city streets as Mrs. Claus pointed out some of the more famous stores, buildings, and locations used in film.
Mrs. Claus was a pretty good guide and pretty engaging. It was really fun hearing her tell us about the city. But that didn't last long. Since this was the final tour of the day she wouldn't be with us the entire trip. Right before we finished with the city portion of the tour she got off the Trolley and the other tour guide took over.
This guide wasn't nearly as exciting to listen too and honestly at times didn't seem like she knew what she was talking about. One of the things the tour mentioned on the website was that you would go by some celebraties homes. That was pretty much a half truth though. We went by some homes that some famous people lived in. But at this time they no longer do. They have long since moved. The Trolley Tour is actually ran by the City of Beverly Hills so I guess it makes since that the City doesn't want to upset the actual famous residents by taking the city sponsored trolley by there house ever hour. Theres plenty of other tours for that stuff.
Now I can't remember who use to live where but the houses we saw on the tour were big and very fancy. The pictures do not do them justice at all. I mean these are full blown Mansions. Costing 10's of Millions of Dollars. Houses we could never fathem living in let alone walking in to.
In the middle of the neighborhoods though we came across one of the most famous Beverly Hills Landmarks. The Beverly Hills Hotel which has a rich history in the entertainment industry. We pretty much circled completly around the hotel before continuing on with the mansions tour.
As we passed the Beverly Hills park that spans across many city blocks Daniel starting to become impatient and was done with the trolley ride. Apparently looking at homes and buildings were as exciting to him as Disneyland was lol.
One of the final stops on the tour was by a house known as the "Witches Cottage". This house looks like it comes strait out of a fairy tale and is really cool and unique. I thought they said it was used in a movie as well although i'm not sure which one.
After the Witch house we were back in the city area and the tour ended where it began. The tour was alright for what it was. It was cheap entertainment for about an hour of our time. We saw some neat houses and the Mrs. Claus part was fun. However I feel that the website made the tour sound like more then it was and the guide we had for the majority of the trip wasn't exciting to listen to at all. This isn't something we would do again but if your in Beverly Hills and looking for something cheap to kill some time then it might be worth checking out. It diffenitly wasn't worth the time and drive though that we spent getting there from Anaheim.
With nothing else planned after the tour we decided to walk around Rodeo Drive a little bit more. We walked into the famous shopping area and looked at the expensive shops windows without ever going in anything. This area had a nice Christmas Tree and also some Carolers to help set the Holiday mood.
We exited the area across the street from the famous hotel where Pretty Women was filmed. Then we headed back up Rodeo drive back towards where we parked the car. Other the the tour and expensive shops there really wasn't much else to see here that interested us. It was crazy to look in some of the shops windows and see 4 or 5 employees just standing around doing nothing. I mean how much money do these shops have to make off so few sales to pay 5 employees to do nothing most of there day.
It was pointed out to us on the Trolley tour and we didn't realize we were parked on the same block as it. But we had heard about a Cupcake Vending machine somewhere in LA and how fun it would be to go to it. By luck we were right there next to it. I couldn't turn this thing down so before leaving we walked over to the Bakery called "Sprinkles" which is home to the worlds only "Cupcake ATM". The line to use the ATM was actually longer then the wait inside the bakery. Yeah it would have been quicker to go inside but that would take away the novelty of using a freakin ATM to get a cupcake.
The ATM was very easy to use. You just scroll thru the screen, pick the cupcake you want, swipe your credit card, and out comes the brown box with your cup cake. We decided to try a Holiday Pepperment Chocolate cupcake and it cost around $4.50. I'm not sure if there was an upcharge for the ATM or not. The Cupcake itself was pretty good although we thought it was on the small side considering how big the box was it came in. Still we bought a fresh cupcake from a vending machine. Not many people can say they have done that.
We loaded back into the car and started to make our way back to Anaheim. We were hungry and ready to find something to eat for dinner. I thought tonight we could keep it simple and just find a Chilies or Applebees or something. I was suprised that after searching on my phones GPS that there wasn't anything in the immidiate area. We finally found a Applebees somewhat close to Anaheim and it took us over 45 minutes to get there. We were glad to find though that there was no wait once we got there and got right in.
After dinner we called it a night dispite it still being fairly young and headed back to our hotel. It was our last night so we needed to get packed and ready to go in the morning. But not without taking a final swim in the pool and relax in the Hot Tub. While we were in the pool once again the Disneyland Fireworks went off which drew many people out of the Hotel and around the pool area to watch the show. We enjoyed relaxing in the hot tub more though having seen the fireworks twice now.
The night really was over after our swim. Daniel quickly crashed out and then we started to get the final things packed for the morning. We took the traditional photo of all the things we bought on the trip and then packed them up. Then we retired to bed. Although we were going home tomorrow we still had most the day ahead of us as we had a later flight leaving LA that evening. One day left. We hope we would make the most of it and that the weather would continue to cooperate like it did today for us.
Our final day of vacation was upon us. By the end of the day we would be back in Salt Lake City and our trip would officially be over. Being such a short flight from home though we decided to book a late flight giving us almost another full day before heading home.
Hotel Check Out was at 11am so we were up early to finish getting everything packed and loaded back into the rental to be on our way. The car was packed and at 10:45am we were on our way out of the Hotel. I just had to stop to check us out where we got a nice surprise. This hotel has a $10 per night parking fee. We stayed 8 nights so I expected to pay $80 at check out for the fee's. Upon seeing how long we stayed at the Holiday Inn though the desk clerk said thank you for as long as we did and waved the 1/2 of the parking fees for it. So we only paid $40 for parking. Such a great jesture that I am a Holiday Inn fan now and wouldn't hisitate to stay there again.
Before leaving Anaheim we stopped by Downtown Disney one last time. Kiera wanted to grab some more things from the World of Disney store (we still had another 20% off coupon) and we figured we could grab lunch as well before leaving. It seemed much less crowded then it was a few days earlier.
Since we missed the Hotel Santas earlier in the week we figured we stop by and see if they were out now. First up was the Disneyland Hotel but Santa was nowhere to be seen. We didn't spend much time here though as we continued on into the Rest of Downtown Disney making our way towards the World of Disney store.
The next stop though was at the Grand Californian again to see if the Santa was out but we were dissapointed once again as he was nowhere to be seen. So we quickly reexited the hotel and moved on.
We finally got to the World of Disney store and Kiera knew exactly what she was looking for (a certain christmas ornament for me). While she got the item and waited to check out me and Daniel looked around the store again to see if there was any last items we would want to get. Unlike the rest of Downtown Disney though the World of Disney store was very busy at the moment.
As I mentioned we also wanted to grab lunch while at Downtown Disney and decided on none other then Earl of Sandwich again. What can I say. We love this little sandwich shop. I so wish we had one closer to us then the one in Las Vegas. Unfortunatly though since its taken me 6 months to write this report I honestly don't even remember what it was that we ordered. All I remember was that it was once again very delicious.
After lunch we were done with Downtown Disney and Anaheim all together so we hit the road to drive to our next destination of Hollywood where we planned to spend the rest of our day. Unfortunatly though we hit a familiar sight as rain started to fall again the closer to LA and Hollywood that we got.
We made a quick stop for some gas (wow was it expensive in the Hollywood area) and then made our way to Hollywood Blvd. We decided to park at the Hollywood and Highland center as its right in the center of the Hollywood attractions and the pricing is alright. I actually first turned into the Valet Parking located under the Madam Tussau's Wax Musium and that too was a great deal. However it was cash only and with no cash we left and parked in the regular parking.
The Hollywood and Highland Center is located right next door to the Famous Grauman's Chinese Theater. Its not only a large shopping complex but its also home to the Academy Awards which take place in the complex's Dolby Theater. The theater use to be known as the Kodak theater but do to the companys financial issues they no longer sponsor many things (as seen in the Disney Parks).
Exiting the Theater entrance across from the theater where Jimmy Kimmel Live is filmed we turned and headed towards the Chinese Theater. The rain had let up a little bit at this point but it was still lightly coming down. The Chinese theater hasn't really changed since the last time we came. Although I do belive its ownership has changed hands again. Now to enter the theater courtyard your required to have a photo taken that they try to get you to buy before leaving.
The World Famous Grauman's Chinese Theater is most well known for it's concrete hand and footprints of famous celebrity's that make up the theaters courtyard. It is also the inspiration for the facade of the Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Florida. Its too bad that Disney has felt the need to hide this replica behind that hidious hat.
You can't go to Hollywood and not visit the Chinese Theater. Its basically a symbol for Hollywood. Its actually a lot of fun looking around at all the different hand and foot prints and seeing what different celebrity's you can find. We would have spent more time here but the rain once again started to pick up and we were ready to get out of it.
A newer attraction in Hollywood is the Madam Tussaud's Wax Musium. We've always wanted to check out a wax musium before but we just couldn't ever justify the cost of them being around $25 a person. However while at the Chinese theater we were given a buy 1 get 1 free coupon for the Wax Museum. $12.50 was a bit easier to pay and wanting to get out of the rain we decided what the heck and decided to check out the museum.
The Museum is 3 stories tall and you actually start at the top and work you way down. As we took the elevator up to the top it dumps you out in an area that looks like a lounge with many wax models of celebrity's all over as if its a party or something. We've seen the Wax models before that they typically have out in front of the attraction. But it was kinda eery seeing so many in one place. Its amazing how real and lifelike they look. Especially there eyes. Can you make out who the celebrity's are that we are "hanging out" with in the following pictures?
The next room we came to was one the celebrated the Stars of an earlier Generation. From the 30's to the 60's there were many of that eras most famous celebritys here.
The 2nd level is the largest portion of the museum and had the most Wax Models. This was really the best part of the museum as many of the Models are set up in front of backdrops from the famous films that they are representing.
Eventually you come to a room that is like the backstage area of a set and then the themes change to once with famous Musicans and Sports Atheletes.
The final room on the 2nd level still has many of the backdrops but it also has many models just standing around like that first room on the 3rd level. However this room is themed to Superhero's and Actions stars.
After this room you will go down some steps back to the main level and probably the most interesting room of the bunch. This room doesn't have any famous celebritys but instead is a behind the scenes section that shows how they create these amazing Wax Models.
The final room before the exit is set up as an awards ceremony where once again there are many of the Wax Models around dressed up in there most elegant wear.
Of course as with all major attractions you end your tour of the museum in the gift shop. As I mentioned above we thought the museum was pretty cool. Its amazing how life like these models are and they really are a sight to behold. However I stand by my original statement. Is it worth the $25 admission? I would say no. But it was worth it if you have a buy 1 get 1 free admission.
We were in the museum for nearly an hour and a half. We really hoped that while in the Museum the rain outside would have stopped. Unfortunatly it had gotten worse though. Dispite the rain we decided to walk the Hollywood Walk of Fame anyways. The Walk of Fame is the sidewalk along Hollywood Blvd that has "Stars" for those most derserving celebrity's in the Entertainment industries. Just like at the Chinese Theater its fun to search and find the stars of your favorite celebrity's. The Walk of Fame is fairly long though and will go miles past the main area of Hollywood Blvd. There will also be many people dressed up as Characters out on Hollywood Blvd wanting you to come take photos with them. Just beware that these people expect to be paid for there photo.
We didn't walk too much of Hollywood Blvd though and decided to turn back around and head to the Hollywood and Highland Center after passing the Disney Soda Fountain and the El Capitan theater. I thought there was a gift shop at the Disney Soda Fountain but I didn't notice one. It also seemed pretty expensive to grab a snack from there.
The shopping side of the Hollywood and Highland center isn't all that different then your typical outdoor mall. You will find many of the same run of the mill stores and there aren't really many high end options. Even most of the restaurants are what you could find at home. In addition to the Dolby Theater that usually has a Circ De Soula show running there are also additional movie theaters and some night clubs. The complex is I think 5 levels tall and on a clear day will give you some great views of the Hollywood Sign on the Hill.
Unfortunatly for us though the rain still hadn't let up and the cloud cover was low enough to completely hide the Hollywood sign from view. With the exception of our very first day in town we never saw the Hollywood sign again. Had it not been getting dark so early we would have drove up closer but the sun was already setting by the time we were done in Hollywood.
We tried to kill some time at the Hollywood and Highland complex but we did all there was to see and not wanting to pay any more for parking we decided to grab a pretzel and then we were on our way out of Hollywood for the day and trip. We still had a few hours to kill before our flight home. Unforutnatly with the rain and early darkness there wasn't a whole lot that we could find to do. We swung back over to Westwood where we grabbed a dozen cookies from Diddy Reese and also picked up a Dinner at a nearby Kentucky Fried Chicken and then it was time to head to the airport.
After stopping to finish topping of the Rental Cars gas tank we returned it to Alamo. Its still so weird to me that all of the Rental car locations are located off property away from the airport. It kind of made the location hard to find but with the help of my phones GPS we were able to find it. We then loaded on to the Bus that would take us to LAX to catch our flight.
We were at the airport at around 7:30pm. About 2 hours before our flight. I thought the LA airport would be quite busy to fly out of but we were suprised to find it as a ghost town. We checked in very quickly and were soon at our gate ready to head home. We had plenty of time to kill and Daniel had fun playing around until it was time to leave.
We boarded the plain and it was very empty. I guess not too many people fly to Salt Lake City late at night lol. We thought for sure that Daniel would sleep the whole way home but he decided he wasn't tired on the plane and really didn't sleep. The flight was uneventful for the most part and before we knew it we were back on the ground in Utah. Where we were soon greeted by the Friged cold and Snow.
One new thing we tried on this trip was with our late arrival (after midnight) Kieras parents brought our car and dropped it off at the airport already for us. This worked out but we really didn't know where it was parked so it took us a little bit to find it. Which in the cold late at night really isn't the funnest thing in the world to do. It was nice to be able to go strait home from the airport though instead of stopping somewhere to pick up the car first.
Overall we had a wonderful and amazing vacation dispite the issues we had with the weather and rain. The parks are beautiful during the Holiday Seasons and the Disneyland Resort continues to prove itself as my favorite theme park destination in the world. Someday I hope to return once more to Southern California and the Disney and Universal parks again. But right now we have no idea when that will be as our next few trips are already planned out to be on the East Coast again.
And thats it everyone. Thanks to those of you who have been patent with me as this report took forever to write. Thanks for following along and reading and checking out the photos and especially thank you for allowing me to share them with you. Vacationing is a big part of our lives so there will be many more reports to come. I will shortly start on my trip review to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina from this past May shortly. And this September we already have a Eastern Caribbean Cruise booked on the Carnival Dream where we will not only return to cruising but we also plan to become Universal Orlando Annual Pass Holders that same trip. Until then thanks again everyone.