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Our Southern California Trip Recap


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  • #21
    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    • #22
      Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

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

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

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

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

      Thanks for sharing : )


      • #23
        Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

        Day 4, Part 1: Disneyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


        • #24
          Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

          Day 4, Part 2: Disneyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


          • #25
            Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

            Day 4, Part 3: Disneyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


            • #26
              Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

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


              • #27
                Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                Day 4, Part 4: Disneyland

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                • #28
                  Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                  Day 5, Part 1: Universal Studios Hollywood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                  • #29
                    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                    Day 5, Part 2: Universal Studios Hollywood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


                    • #30
                      Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

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


                      • #31
                        Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                        Still enjoying your report. Thank you.


                        • #32
                          Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                          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.


                          • #33
                            Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                            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.


                            • #34
                              Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                              Day 7, Part 1: Disneyland Resort

                              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.


                              • #35
                                Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                                Day 7, Part 2: Disneyland Resort

                                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.


                                • #36
                                  Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                                  Day 7, Part 3: Disneyland Resort

                                  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.


                                  • #37
                                    Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                                    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 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.


                                    • #38
                                      Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                                      Day 7, Part 5: Disneyland Resort

                                      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.


                                      • #39
                                        Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap


                                        Do you take notes during your visit to remember all the details?


                                        • #40
                                          Re: Our Southern California Trip Recap

                                          Thanks for the update!


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