This last weekend, Tara and I headed up to Anaheim by ourselves – The Kid is still visiting his grandparents in Illinois until tomorrow. This was to celebrate our 12th anniversary, although our actually anniversary had been the week before.
Friday, we had an appointment to start getting a fourth quote on a possible solar electrical system for our house. So this delayed our departure a bit – but actually less than if I’d taken the bus to work. But we actually did pretty well with traffic. There was a bit of a glitch when we got to the end of the I-15 express lanes: I was on the phone, and missed warning Tara to take the exit to the local road, or exit to get to westbound CA-78. But we still made good time and had no serious traffic issues.
We stopped for dinner (or maybe a very late breakfast in my case) at a Denny’s in San Juan Capistrano and then headed on to our motel. We got checked in and I picked up our ART tickets and then we settled into our room. Unlike in February, we were in the same building as the desk, so it was fairly quick to get in. We had a bit of a delay because both the door lock and the door itself were a bit sticky.
On Saturday, we got up and moving fairly early with a goal of getting breakfast and into one of the parks at or shortly after they open at 8. We din’t quite pull it off, largely because we missed the first shuttle by seconds. But we did get to the park area reasonably. We headed across to Downtown Disney where we got breakfast from Jamba Juice and drinks for Häagan-Dazs (which was our pattern for the whole weekend) and then headed over to California Adventure.
Once we got in, we headed over to the customer service area to get anniversary buttons and then jumped onto a Redcar trolley. I was impressed with the trolley for a couple of things. First, instead of using another power source, the cars utilize catenary power, even requiring the driver to move the catenary each time the trolley reverses direction. Second, the trolleys have well done, period looking, ads; albiet most for businesses located in the Buna Vista Street/Carthay Circle area, and one for The Hollywood Tower Hotel. But the one for The Hollywood Tower Hotel didn’t quite look like the structure as it currently stands, but in the way it, supposedly, would have stood in the late 1920′s – about 10 years before the mysterious events that left it in its current state.
We got off the Redcar at the last stop, The Hollywood Tower stop, and were able to head quickly into the aforementioned Hollywood Tower, in reality The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. When we got in there was literally no line so we were the first people in our group. This had the result of us ending up in the front row which isn’t my favorite place to be, at least not until the after the first drop when I can usually relax a bit longer.
From there, we cut across A Bug’s Land and into the new Cars Land. After slowly working our way down the main drag, stopping for a rest stop and some shopping, we reached the Radiator Springs Racers. As the Fast Pass distribution center was back in A Bug’s Land, we decided instead to wait in the single rider line. The wait as a single rider wasn’t too long, and we managed to get into adjacent cars so that we raced each other. I wasn’t all that surprised when the race ended up a tie. But the ride was a lot of fun and we’d both like to ride it again.
After that, we headed across to Paradise Pier and got Fast Passes for California Screaming – passes for less than an hour later, which surprised me until we realized that everyone who was in the park on this hot weekend (well, a significant proportion) wanted to visit Cars Land. While we waited, we took a ride on Micky’s Fun Wheel, choosing one of the non-swinging gondolas.
After riding California Screaming, we headed back to the front of the park, noting that Grizzly River Rapids – the park’s water ride – was the only ride outside of Cars Land that had either a significant waiting time or a late Fast Pass return, so we passed it up. At the front of the park, we pulled Fast Passes for Soarin’ Over California and headed for lunch around the corner at one of the new restaurants. This particular restaurant also includes a nearly full, or full, menu Starbuck’s, allowing Tara and I to try their new green coffee drinks.
Once we were done with Soarin’, we crossed the park and caught a showing of Aladin. We spent a bit of time watching a dance troop from somewhere in the LA area, got some fruit and Coke near the front of the park and then started, slowing, working our way back while waiting for it to be dark enough to enjoy Cars Land at night. Finally, we ended up in The Animation Building, were we spent a long time enjoying the cool, mostly empty, area while watching the presentation that shows a mix of animatics and final animation from Disney and Pixar-Disney films, accompanied with still art from the same films.
By the time we left it was finally dark, and a bit cooler, so we headed through A Bug’s Land into Cars Land again to enjoy the neon. We thought that the line for Luigi’s Flying Tires was short – while the sign said there was a 50 minute wait, the line didn’t start until well inside the ride building. But it turns out that the queue runs through the ride building and several times back and forth along two sides of the ride area. So we escaped the line through an emergency exit that I suspect is there primarily so people can escape the line. We headed back through A Bug’s Land for the third time, and caught The Red Car back to Carthay Circle where we got some sundaes from Clarabelle’s and headed back to our shuttle.
Having not been that near fireworks in some time – except February when I was probably closer, but in a ride building - I’d forgotten how much the bangs of fireworks bother me, or maybe I’m just getting bothered by them more than I used to. Just tells me that I probably don’t want to join certain of my friends in Michigan most summers.
On Sunday, we got a bit earlier of a start. But Tara’s legs were bothering her so we stopped off at the stroller rental to rent her a scooter (“Electric Conveyance Vehicles” in theme park parlance). As we couldn’t take it over to Downtown Disney, we had to walk over and get breakfast. We then returned, picked up the scooter and headed into the Disneyland Park.
All morning we were doubly successful at playing the Fast Pass game, successfully getting passes for an hour or so after we pulled them, and picking up the next set almost as soon as we could – in one case I actually had to wait for the limit to expire before pulling the next pass.
Further, because of short lines and Tara’s cart, we were often able to get onto rides in the morning without actually exchanging our Fast Passes.
Over the course of the day, we rode Star Tours twice, Space Mountain twice, The Jungle Cruise, The Indiana Jones Adventure (where I joked about the host of the safety announcement, Selah from the movies, being Gimli, but Tara observed that without the costume and makeup it looked more like Professor Aurtro), Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain – the only ride with a long Fast Pass delay, and one where they refused to honor the Fast Pass for disabled visitors. We also watched “Great Moments with Lincoln,” which was preceded by a brief concert by The Voices of Liberty, a twelve-member acapella group. Also in there, I rode It’s a Small World for the first time (“Next time on Toddler’s and Tieras, The It’s A Small World Can-Can Dancers” – me).
As it was getting time to leave, I realized that if we wanted to make our planned stop at Häagen-Dasz for shakes, the easiest way would be to take the monorail (which I also wanted to ride) over to Downtown Disney. The only glitch was that we needed to return the scooter at the other end of the entrence plaza. The solution was for Tara to wait at the Tomorowland monorail station while I took the scooter back. There were two glitches. First, I got about half-way to the entrance when I realized that Tara still had the admission ticket I’d need to get back into the park. And then when I got to the scooter rental station, I didn’t have the proper receipt to get the deposit back. But with the name, Tara’s card, and the time we picked it up, they were eventually able to look up the record and process the refund.
There weren’t a lot of people waiting to ride the monorail when I got back. So Tara and I were the only people in the front compartment and were thus invited to join the driver in the front cab – which has limited passenger seating. We had noticed this weekend that at most, probably all, of the monorail front cars now sport faces. As we were riding over to Downtown Disney, the monorail introduced herself as Mona, and then happily talked about the monorail system, where we were going, and other things.
That late, Downtown Disney was fairly crowded, but we were able to get our shakes (both very yummy) and caught our shuttle back to the hotel.
This morning, we slept in and packed before heading over to Downtown Disney for shopping. The ART shuttle was packed by the time we hit the last spot, with a couple of adults giving up their seats for small kids.
On the ride, I listened to one father express concern about the possibility of rain. My conclusion was that he was unaware of the microclimate conditions of costal southern California, or the local terminology about parts of the Greater Los Angles area, so didn’t understand that thunderstorm warnings for The Inland Empire probably didn’t apply to Anaheim.
After eating, we commenced shopping. Our first purchases were at the Disney owned WonderGround Gallery, where Tara got some more robots and we each got a print based on a Pixar-Disney movie (her print is of WALL-E and EVE, and mine is of the Green Guys from Toy Story, worshiping “The Claw”). We then hit up the big Disney store, and came home with several pins and a shirt for me, a couple of things for Tara and a couple for the people who dog sat for us this weekend.
We had a good time, and still are wanting to come back. A strength of the Disney parks are that people are interested in returning many times, not something I’ve experienced with many other theme parks – at least not on the time cycle we’ve been hitting up Disneyland and California Adventure.
I’m hoping that sometime in the next couple of years, we can work out going up there for a couple of days when The Kid has the week before Thanksgiving off. The big hold-ups are vacation for Tara and I, and making sure that the pets are taken care of. I’d prefer to do Tuesday and Wednesday or Wednesday and Thursday so we aren’t making two trips to the LA area within a week, but it might be easier for Tara to get the Monday off.