Sunday, August 05, 2012

California Adventure

Vicki and me in Radiator Springs

My sister Vicki was in town this past week, so Tim got employee vouchers allowing the four of us (including Karen) into Disney California Adventure (DCA) at 8AM on Wednesday. The plan was to get there right when the park opened so we could run into Cars Land and take a quick spin on the new Radiator Springs Racers ride. Vicki and I had already decided to spend Wednesday night in Anaheim, but Tim and Karen planned to return home early to beat rush-hour traffic.

By the time we parked and took the tram, it was 7:40AM when we arrived at DCA—plenty of time to use the restroom and get organized before the gates opened. But wait! The gates were already open. Quite the coup, we thought, until we saw the sign saying the Racers weren't operating till 10AM. So instead of waiting on line for 2 hours, we opted to get a “fast pass”—i.e., a ticket that allows you to go on a ride at a specific time without having to wait on line—except, of course, we had to wait on a long line to get our passes. After an hour, we finally got our not-so-fast passes for the earliest time available: 6PM! Tim and Karen had to spend the entire day with us after all.

Karen and Tim on Junkyard Jamboree

We, of course, ended up having a wonderful, if exhausting, time. We did the Junkyard Jamboree, which I love, and then headed over to the Paradise Pier section of the park, where Tim took the rollercoaster while Vicki, Karen and I went on the considerably tamer Little Mermaid ride. (Note to self: Little Mermaid cars were built for a parent and two small children, not for the wide rears of three middle-aged women!) By 10:30AM it was already getting hot, so we decided to go on the Grizzly River Run, a white-water rafting flume that’s always fun but very wet. Completely drenched, we hobbled back to Buena Vista Street, where I had made early lunch reservations at the Carthay Circle restaurant, DCA’s “fanciest” sit-down restaurant. We happily dripped-off outside while watching cast members perform a few numbers from Newsies, Disney’s most recent Broadway musical, including an unexpected guest appearance by Mickey Mouse.

Walt, Mickey and me

As I’ve reported elsewhere on this blog, Buena Vista Street is meant to represent the Los Angeles Walt Disney experienced when he came here in the 1920s. At its heart is a replica of the Carthay Circle theater, an L.A. icon that was unfortunately demolished in 1969 to make way for a hideous “box” office building. DCA celebrates Carthay Circle as both an architectural masterpiece and cultural hub. The ground-floor lobby, especially, is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of motion pictures, but the food upstairs is darn good, too.

Lunch at Carthay Circle

We eventually moseyed over to Disneyland, which seems a lot less crowded these days now that California Adventure has been renovated. We returned to DCA a few minutes before 6PM. With fast passes in hand, we rushed up to the Racers ride, only to be turned away. The ride was having mechanical problems—check back in an hour! Crestfallen, we decided to grab a bite before Tim and Karen drove home. But just as we were about to place our order, I happened to glance toward the Racers and saw cars filled with people zoom by!

“I think the ride is running!” I yelled.

We gathered our things and ran over to the ride. Sure enough, it was running. I’ll let the photo below tell the rest of the story.

 Are we going fast? Click on the photo to check-out Vicki's hair!

In the end, we all agreed that it was worth the daylong wait.

Tim and Karen left happy, while Vicki and I stayed and shopped. Soon after, we collapsed in our hotel room and didn’t wake-up till the next morning, when we had breakfast reservations at my favorite "character restaurant," Goofy’s Kitchen. Back to reality by noon.

Goofy's Kitchen - gawrsh!

Vicki and Mulan

P.S. All the affordable rooms at the Disney resort were booked by the time I made our reservation, so Vicki and I stayed at the Anaheim Sheraton, located on Ball and Disneyland Way, directly north of Disneyland. I was disappointed when they gave us a room on the ground floor, because I was hoping to see the Disneyland fireworks from a second-story window. We were just starting to watch the Olympics, when we heard loud booms bouncing off the walls. Poking my head outside, I was amazed to see fireworks bursting above the hotel! I had forgotten that the fireworks are released from a lot just north of Disneyland, right across the street from where we were. They were spectacular. So if you want to see Disneyland fireworks up close and personal, spend the night at the Anaheim Sheraton: reasonably priced rooms, trademark “heavenly” beds, and fireworks, too.

See ya next time!

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