Sunday, January 31, 2016

Disneyland Recap: Saturday

In my last post you read about my crazy-early Saturday morning. Now we take a look at that brief time that I was awake and in the parks for the rest of the day. Spoiler alert: I was in bed by 6:30.

PM.

Yes that isn't a typo.


Anyway, the only things I had with me after my race were my phone and my park ticket (and my medal), but that was all I needed. The only thing I wanted to do at California Adventure was do Radiator Springs Racers right at park opening, because even though the ride has been around for over 3 years, it is still the most popular ride in the park. If I didn't get on it at the opening, I would be waiting for over an hour.

(FYI: I never wait in a line for an hour.)

I got to the entrance at 8:20, and saw a very different group of people waiting for the park to open than yesterday's group. It didn't take me long to realize why: this was the day for the Locals. Those lucky Southern California folks who just decide to wake up and drive to Disneyland for the day. Because they can. And they don't come in their yoga pants and walking shoes and tops-meant-for-exercise-but-rarely-used-that-way. No, these people come in their most stylish clothing, making someone who is still recovering from a 10K race look pretty ridiculous.

But there were a couple of us, so I didn't feel that ridiculous.

Buena Vista Street opened at 8:30, and I gathered in the group that would be heading down to Radiator Springs Racers once the rest of the park opened. We all stood there in a group, with most of the Locals checking their phones and chatting with their friends like this was another trip to the mall. I did talk to a man who was with his family from New Zealand for a bit; he was curious about my medal and why I was dressed like I'd been out for a run. I gladly informed him of the Star Wars Half Marathon weekend that he was going to have to deal with for the next few days!

Finally, we all headed down the street, and turned the corner into Cars Land. The cast members told us to stay off the sidewalks and just proceed down the middle of the road, but some people just had to get in front and didn't listen. The whole reasoning was that people don't realize the step and trip, and I get that. It was amusing to see people do it anyway.

The queue for Radiator Springs Racers is long, so I spent a good 5 minutes just winding along the switchbacks with the rest of the crowd. I wasn't waiting; it was all walking! I didn't have to wait until I got to the final section that takes guests up the ramp to their cars.

I gotta say, I'd been told that this was a great attraction, and I can confirm that this is a great attraction. It has dark ride elements mixed with top speed thrills, and it's all done so well! If you've ever seen Cars, you know how the cars talk: their bumpers move as their lips. Well, the audio-animatronics that they have do the exact same thing. It's like the characters really are in front of you and talking to you! I was enthralled by that genius bit of engineering.

There are two tracks at one point, and in the two rides I took in a row, I managed to see both of them. The idea is that the gang from Radiator Springs are helping you get your car ready for a race. One car sees Luigi and his tires, and the other car goes the other way and sees Ramone and his paint job. Then those two cars race each other outside, and the winner is random. Lucky for me, I won both times, too!

So I did the regular line and then immediately got back and did the single rider line, which was a small line compared to the giant line that had formed for regular riders. But once I did those two, I knew I had to get back to the hotel and change!

I relaxed in the hotel for just a little bit as I showered, charged my phone, and put my feet up for a bit. I wasn't in a rush; out of all the days at the parks, this one needed to be the least stressful and hurried. I didn't go back to California Adventure until 11:00 when I decided it was time for lunch.

First, the music group Five and Dime were performing on Buena Vista Street, so I stopped and caught almost their whole act. It was a lot of fun to watch, and they all play their own instruments!

My choice for lunch was the Cozy Cone Motel, which actually isn't a motel, but different food counters, each with a cone theme. One is desserts, one is snacks, one is entrees, and there's a few more, too. The longest line was, naturally, the one I wanted. There were three choices that all sounded appetizing: the Chicken Verde, the BBQ pulled pork and coleslaw, and the - get this - Chili CONE Queso. (Get it?) I spent the entire line going back and forth between these three, until I finally got to the front and ordered the Chicken Verde. It was served in a cone, but not a dessert-style waffle cone, but a nice, hard bread cone that held everything in without getting soggy.

I actually ate it at the outdoor seating of Flo's V8 Cafe as I listened to the great soundtrack of Radiator Springs (50s and 60s pop and Motown) and watched the meet-and-greet happening across the street. They had Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the fire truck guy take turns, but when they were coming and going, they would drive down the main street like they were just doing it on a normal day! (This area is really well done. Mad props.)

After my meal I was in need of some dessert. Nearby was the Ghirardelli soda shop, and I splurged on the Nob Hill Chill, which ice cream and hot fudge blended with chocolate chips. I gotta say, this was probably the only thing I regretted buying during my trip. It was just...meh. I was expecting more from Ghirardelli.

I wandered with my drink and found my favorite place in the park: the very bottom of the viewing area for World of Color, which during the day is left completely empty. People were so interested in getting to rides that no one was just sitting around. So I sat down and enjoyed the view from the other side of the pier! I also called my little brother on Facetime, so I could share with him my awesome view.

I got a Fastpass for the California Screamin' roller coaster, which said I just had to wait 30 minutes before I could go on. So I sat on a bench at Paradise Pier right by the start of the coaster, which meant every 45 seconds or so people would go screaming by at 50 miles per hour. (I was all right with that.)

That ride was great, too, but it only made me want to go to Cedar Point to ride more roller coasters.

The other really popular attraction is Toy Story Midway Mania, but since I've been on that so many times in Orlando, I saved myself some time and opted out. Instead, I headed back to Buena Vista Street and finally ventured down to Hollywood Land. After determining the line for the Monsters, Inc. ride was too long, I went across the street and did the Animation Academy instead. This is probably my all-time favorite attraction, and I am truly bummed that it no longer exists in Orlando. We drew Tigger, and I was very glad to do a character I hadn't done yet. My Tigger wasn't half bad!

This would have also been the point where I would have finally seen the Aladdin stage show that had been there since the park first opened, but the show had just closed LESS THAN A WEEK AGO. Out of all the attractions that were closed at Disneyland, this one was the one that made me upset. I'd heard so much about how great it was, but I didn't get a chance to see it!

There was another musical show that comes down to Buena Vista Street, alternating with Five and Dime, and they're called the Red Trolley Newsboys. They're supposed to be from the same time period as when Walt Disney first came to California (1923) and are conveniently selling papers, just like that really popular Disney Broadway musical, Newsies! Their act is fun, but after seeing Newsies in person less than a month ago, I wasn't as impressed by these guys. However, Mickey Mouse does come into the show dressed up as a newsboy, and that was fun to watch!

I also got my very first ride on the Red Car Trolley, and it was very nice and relaxing. There were two cast members on the trolley: one to drive, and one to give a nice little narration about Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Land.

I hadn't made it a priority to check out Grizzly Peak, since the Soarin' attraction is closed for refurbishment and the other major attraction there is Grizzly River Rapids, a water ride. But I did take a walk through there and really liked the ambiance of the land.

The other attraction I really wanted to do today was Mickey's Fun Wheel. I can't help it - I'm a sucker for Ferris wheels. They have two options - one where you stay put and just go around, and another where you actually let gravity take you on a little trip, and you do a lot of swinging. That clearly did not appeal to me, so I just chose the normal wheel.

The queue for the ride was rather long, but luckily my sister was available to do a FaceTime chat with her, my brother-in-law, and my niece! That made the wait go much faster. I even got to take them on the ride with me, and the Fun Wheel offered great views of California Adventure and Disneyland!

My final objective for the day was dinner at the Pacific Wharf. I chose the kids' meal of chicken and rice, with milk and a fortune cookie. Instead of eating it in the giant eating area that is next to the counter service restaurant, I took it over to my favorite spot at Paradise Pier. There were still no people around, and I watched the sun set behind the roller coaster as I ate my dinner.

As I ate, a couple came over with two photographers and were taking their engagement pictures. They were being very artsy, and it was fun to witness. (I tried not to gawk too much, but it was cool watching the photographers do their work.)

My dinner was done, and so was my day. I headed towards the exit, but did catch a picture with Oswald the Lucky Rabbit first! It was a nice way to wrap up the day.

I was in bed by 6:30, but had to use three different noise diffusers to help keep out the external noise. (It was fun hearing the Disneyland fireworks, though.) Eventually I made it to sleep, and I woke up to my most challenging running day yet: the day of the Star Wars Half Marathon.

Click here to view my article on the Star Wars Half Marathon!

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