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Quick Trip Report: Weeked to Disney's California Adventure - RonO's Ramblings

May. 10th, 2009 04:13 pm Quick Trip Report: Weeked to Disney's California Adventure

This weekend, not officially in honor of Mother's Day, we ventured north to Anaheim to visit Disney's California Adventure.

On Friday, robot_grrl didn't end up working, which I'd hoped would have given me the chance to catch a train to work about 35 minutes earlier than the one that I've been catching for the last few weeks (which is about 30 minutes earlier than the one I've got most of the time since moving up to Oceanside in October). However, I left a few minutes later than I should of and missed by less than a minute (I was about one car-length north of the engine at the northern end of the train when it started heading south).

One concern that developed during the day was that the dog had been throwing up since the night before. When he had a point where he took a dog treat (milk bone type) from Tara, and sat down with it, but didn't start eating it, Tara decided to take him to the vet. While the boarding facility we use and the vet are connected, they are not co-located. So when the vet decided the best thing to do under the circumstances was to keep the dog for the weekend in their facility and monitor him, Tara readily agreed (as opposed to running every test under the sun $$$). She did have to make some chicken and rice for the dog and bring it by the vet clinic before picking up Derrick from school.

But, despite not getting to work the half an hour earlier than I might have, I still left in time to catch the earlier train home. I got home about 40 minutes before I otherwise would have, which let us leave a bit earlier than we might have. Once I was home, we quickly loaded the car and headed north.

Once in Orange County, we stopped at a Marie Calendar's in San Juan Capistrano that we'd used after Loscon last year. We spent a bit more time, and calories, by getting pies. I had a fresh strawberry pie -- with more than the "little bit" of whipped cream I'd asked for -- and Tara and Derrick split a coconut cream pie and a banana split pie -- one of which, the coconut cream pie, I wouldn't like and the other I would have liked, but couldn't eat due to a banana allergy.

After dinner, we worked our way to the hotel. The hotel, The Quality Inn and Suites Anaheim Resort, was a bit of a disappointment, but not too much. There were a couple of issues I will make sure I report to hotels.com. First, the room we had had been advertised as having a queen sized bed and a queen sized sofa bed. The bed was a double sized bed, and the sofa bed was a full sized bed. Second, there are two Quality Inn and Suites in Anaheim, both located on or near Manchester Avenue. However, one has a stop on the Anaheim Resort Transport -- but not the one we were staying at. A previous occupant of our room had smoked in there, heavily. They even went to the extent of covering the smoke detector with the bag from the ice bucket.

Friday night wasn't a lot of fun because Derrick had to sleep, leaving me to watch TV quietly on a set that was barely tuning in the channels the hotel provided.

On Saturday, we got up fairly reasonably. We were a bit concerned because Derrick would not go back to sleep after waking up. But we still got moving pretty well. We decided to take the ART instead of walking, so we crossed to the Howard Johnson's across the street and quickly found the ART bus. Unfortunately, I spotted it as it was pulling out. But the next one came quickly enough and we were the last stop so we were at the parks in almost no time.

Getting into California Adventure was similarly no problem. Once inside Tara and I decided to head for the Tower of Terror first. Derrick, despite having said it was "sweet" two years ago in Orlando, and having told kids at school that he was going to ride it, didn't want to ride. So, instead he sat near the exit -- unfortunately in the sun. Tara and I both enjoyed the ride and the short line at the beginning of the day.

I probably got what some would consider one of the best seats on the ride -- in the front row against an aisle -- but I'm not sure if for me it was that much of a bonus. Instead I felt like I was being a wimp by clinging to my wife during the drops.

We then worked our way across the park and got on California Screaming. Again, Derrick sat waiting for us. The line was again fairly short, so we got on without a long delay. I really liked this coaster, which was the first inverted coaster I've been on in almost 25 years (July or August 1984 at the park near Kansas City). This is a good long ride, but fast nearly the whole way. Once bonus is the liner induction start, which avoids the long chain climb up the hill where I usually get the most nervous.

After California Screaming, we continued around that part of the park. Next we all rode on Toy Story Mania, a dark, or at least flat, ride going between a bunch of 3D games based on shooting from a pull-string gun. Derrick wasn't sure what this was at first, since he by they had decided that all rides that weren't motion simulator rides weren't his cup of tea. But once he saw what it was he was happy.

After that, we got on Mickey's Fun Wheel.(Oh, while waiting for this ride the vet office called and told us that Rocket was just fine.) Mickey's Fun Wheel had just opened on Friday -- I'm not sure if it was an official opening, or just a "soft opening". Of course the basic mechanics and design are those of The Sun Wheel that has been at the park since its opening. But the wheel and all of its gondolas have been rethemed and repainted to reflect Mickey on the fixed outer gondolas, and the other four "Fab Five" (Minnie, Pluto, Donald and Goofy) on the swinging gondolas.

We were on one of the swinging gondolas. We were part of the first group loaded, so got a ride up and around first with frequent stops. So when it finally started its regular run, we were all startled by how quickly and violently it swung. This swinging scared Derrick and bothered my not very full stomach. But it was an overall fun ride.

After that, we worked our way over to Grizzly River Run (GRR) and got fast passes for about an hour later. We then found a place to eat. Our choice was pretty good food-wise. But it had a couple of real problems at peak lunch time on a somewhat (but probably not top attendance) day. First the kitchen got backed up enough that the line between the cash register where we ordered and paid and the kitchen got absolutely filled before anyone got their food. In fact we got our food before the person in front of us. We did have to briefly send ours back since they gave me a plain veggie burger instead of one with the blue cheese and sauce that was supposed to come on it. But then the real problem surfaced. There were no seats available. Several tables were being held for people who were in line and they would not give them up for us even though we had our food. We finally had to go sit around the corner -- actually a fair ways away -- and in the sun. When we were done we found another family, but one with three little kids, sitting with the tray balanced on the father's lap and told them to go around the corner to the other seating.

On the way past we got fast passes for Soarin', but ones good for 4:50 to 5:50. We then rode on GRR. Tara got quite wet by being in the worst spot on two of the drops. Derrick and I both got nicely wet for the temperature and time of the day -- although he had to complain about being wet afterwords.

We had a fair amount of time before we could use our Soarin' passes, so we hit up the bakery tour by Boudin Bakery -- interesting, but very little was actually being done and Tara and I weren't thrilled by one of the video hosts, Rosie O'Donnell. We followed that up by a fairly long rest, during which I got some overpriced, but good, fresh fruit.

On our way back across the park, we stopped at the imagineering exhibit at the Blue Sky Cellar, where I listened to the well informed expert and Tara and Derrick watched the video about the planned changes in the park. Between the all of us, I think we got a good idea of all that is going on over the next few years with the park -- and I think we are all excited about the changes.

Our next stop took us back across the park to the Hollywood Studios area, where we watched Muppets 3D, which is just as much fun the second time. We then took the Monster's Inc. ride. Derrick was a bit overanxious on this because he believed Tara when she told him that there would be a drop. This was also a fun ride, but a pretty much basic "dark ride."

We then could go back and get on Soarin' using our fast passes at about their earliest time. This ride is also very good and worth riding multiple times. We again got front row seats, and I was again on the aisle. In this case, the aisle may have been a downside since it let me see around the end of the canopy and to the other groups riding at a couple of points. It was also fun to start to recognize some of the areas around San Diego.

At this point, we spent some time shopping where I got a shirt I'd considered when we were at Downtown Disney. We then left the park and had dinner at Capt. Kidd's buffet across the street from the park entrance. While not the best food we've had, it was a pretty good deal for $7.99. After dinner we went back to the hotel, where Derrick went to bed and Tara stayed with him and finished drying her pants with the hotels hair blow dryer. I changed into jeans from the shorts I had been wearing all day, grabbed a coat, and walked back to the park.

Once I was back in the park, I went and tried to get a single rider for Mulholland Madness, but couldn't find the line so got a fast pass for about an hour later instead. I then went over and got a non-swinging gondola on Mickey's fun wheel. This was nice to see more, since the swinging gondolas don't actually get much higher than the center. I ended up sharing the gondola with 4 young men -- I'm guessing high school seniors -- who spent most of the time taking pictures of each other.

I then went back and rode Mulholland Madness, which is a pretty fun "wild mouse" type coaster. I then went and tried to find the single rider line for California Screaming, and almost failed -- I was actually half way through the regular line when I saw the single rider line intersect with the emergency exit and jumped from one to the other. This was the first time I've ridden a coaster twice in the same day since 1984. I then finished the day by returning to the Tower of Terror.

I ended up walking back to the hotel since there was some confusion about the shuttle that was loading at the slot for our shuttle. I'm 90% sure it was NOT an ART shuttle, but the shuttle that loads in front of it on the line. But there were so many people just after 10, that they sent two buses and they ended up taking both slots.

One nice surprise at the end of the day was checking my pedometer. Sine I think it read correctly -- the first time on a day with a lot of walking -- I walked over 20,000 steps. If the 30-inch stride that it estimates for a 6-foot man is close to what I was actually walking, this was over 10 miles and was worth 8 weight watchers points (almost enough to offset what I ate)

On Sunday, we got up and got moving similar to on Saturday, except that Derrick didn't wake up quite as early. After breakfast we loaded the car, checked out and headed over to Saddleback Church. In some ways I'm frustrated in finding that I was more comfortable here than at the church we've chosen. I think that the main factor was that the worship music -- unfortunately due to it being Mother's day, we ended up with only one song sung corporately -- was closer to the style and presentation that I'm used to. Rick Warren's message was also very good -- even if it was the longest one I've listened to in a long time.

If it wasn't more than 45 minutes from home, I'd almost be tempted to move there. Plus if we move to a different part of San Diego, it would be much further.

On the way home we stopped at Lucille's Smoke House Barbecue. While the barbecue was pretty good, both Tara and I thought that the portions were much larger than necessary. Fortunately we could get lunch portions where were about the same size as Famous Dave's dinner portions, and about the same price.

We had a good time, and I'm 90% sure we'll want to go back to the Disney parks sooner rather than later. Between Derrick's short days and some of his attitude this weekend, Tara and I are both tempted to do so -- or go to Universal Studio instead or as well -- while he is at her parent's this summer and, assuming that trend continues, in future summers.

Current Mood: tiredtired

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