Thursday, February 11, 2016

Disneyland Recap: Sunday

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

Sunday, Sunday, Sunday...

My real Sunday didn't begin until around 2pm, when I woke up from my Half Marathon recovery nap and was very hungry. I got dressed and headed out to Disneyland, where I knew exactly where I was going to eat.

I'd kept things carb-friendly for the most part on this trip to help me in my running, but now that my running was done, my big post-race meal was all about the taste. I made a beeline straight for the Cafe Orleans restaurant in New Orleans Square, where I had heard about some delicious foods that were required eating at Disneyland.

While Saturday had been a very "Southern California Locals" crowd, the Sunday crowd I encountered was more my style: Tourists. And there were a lot of them! Sunday was definitely the busiest park day during my weekend, but luckily for me, I really didn't have a lot planned for the day.

Because it was so crowded, Disneyland was opening up a lot more of their ride vehicles that run down Main Street USA. I saw the double-decker bus (omnibus) and the horse-drawn trolley, but they were all full by the time I got there. However, on the other side of Town Square was a cute little fire engine! I went over there and rode on that with several other ladies that had done the half marathon! The driver mentioned that the fire engine was Walt's favorite vehicle in which to ride - the very vehicle I was in!

My trip to Cafe Orleans took me right past the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which had an insanely long line that just kept wrapping around itself! People were confused as to why that queue was so long, but the answer was easy: the Haunted Mansion was closed, and so was the Jungle Cruise. Where were those people supposed to go?

I had to wait about 20 minutes for a table at Cafe Orleans, which didn't bother me. I wandered around my new favorite land and enjoyed the relative quiet of the area, compared to the madness of Frontierland and Adventureland. I also took in some live jazz at the outdoor seating of the French Market. My sister had told me that my 10-month-old niece squealed in delight at the live music I sent her way, so I made sure to send her video of the jazz performers!

When I was seated at Cafe Orleans, I barely looked at the menu. I ordered the pommes frites (French fries with parmesan, garlic, and parsley with a DELICIOUS dipping sauce) and the Monte Cristo sandwich (a ham/turkey/swiss sandwich which is then deep-fried and covered in powdered sugar). I would probably order the pommes frites on any regular day, but this was the only day I would have felt comfortable ordering the Monte Cristo. It was amazing, but so filling! I wondered early on why there was powdered sugar on this entree, but it's very clear that the sandwich needs something sweet to offset the massive amounts of salty goodness.

Cafe Orleans also offers Mickey beignets, but after allowing my family and friends to decide on my dessert, they suggested I eat something sweet over in Tomorrowland. So I made my way across the busy park (stopping to tour the Columbia sailing ship, which wasn't going around the Rivers of America for a while) to the Galactic Grill and ordered the Star Wars-themed "Darth by Chocolate," which was a chocolate parfait. At first I was discouraged by the small size, but then I ate it and realized that there's more to it than I thought! It ended up being the perfect sized dessert.

I set myself up at a table, put my jacket on a chair, and did FaceTime with my parents. It was my chance to tell them all about my races and what I'd been up to that weekend. It's been a while since they were in Disneyland, and they were curious how close California Adventure was. So I got up and walked out of the park and into California Adventure, which I was planning to do, anyway! It was fun showing off the parks to them.

We hung up once I reached Paradise Pier, and I was going to spend the rest of the night at the second park. My first thought? "I'm chilly! Where's my jacket...?" Oh. I'd left my jacket hanging on a chair in Tomorrowland!

Luckily, as I just mentioned, it was easy to walk back to Disneyland. The bigger question was, where was my jacket now? Was it still at the table? Or was it at the front of the park in Lost and Found?

I decided to try Tomorrowland first, since it was only 1/2 an hour since I'd left. The jacket wasn't on the chair, but I talked to a cast member, who directed me to one of the custodians of the area that had the jacket in the back! Problem solved.

So, back in California Adventure, I headed over to Radiator Springs and was able to witness the transition into night, just like in the Cars movie. They blared "Sh-Boom (Life Could Be A Dream)" by The Coasters and all the neon came a little at a time. It was so cute! The area is definitely better in the nighttime than it was in the day. If the queue for Radiator Springs Racers hadn't been so crazy long, I would have ridden it at night.

I knew I had to do the Monster's, Inc. dark ride, so I waited 20 minutes in line to see it. It was very cute! And what was even better was when I exited the attraction, the Mad T Party was taking place right outside!

The Mad T Party is an evening party that's open to all park guests in one corner of California Adventure. Honestly, it hadn't even been on my radar of things to see, but I was glad I stumbled into it. It's more like a dance club than anything else, so it's more dance and techno music pumping through. But they also have a live band that features two lead vocalists: Alice and the Mad Hatter. I caught them in the middle of their act, and enjoyed what I saw. There were some really obsessed fans, though! It was clear I'd found where the locals had been hiding.

When they went on a break, I went across Hollywood Land and did another round at the Animation Academy, drawing Minnie Mouse this time. It wasn't as good as my Tigger, but I was still pleased.

Water art done by a
cast member!
I headed over to Paradise Pier and did a twirl on the Silly Symphony Swings as the final part of my "must-do" attractions at California Adventure. I'm a sucker for swings, and you have to go up one flight of stairs to get to the swings. Plus it's right next to California Screamin', and we go over the lagoon, too! It's not much, but I loved it.

My final thing to do at California Adventure was to finally see the nighttime show, World of Color. I still had 1 1/2 hours to kill. The closest attraction near me, The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, only had a 5 minute wait, so I got in the queue. The cast member at the entrance congratulated me on my Rebel Challenge accomplishment (I was wearing my medal), which was very nice of him to do! He said he was one of the people volunteering, and waking up so early was really hard. I had to agree!

After my ride in the attraction, I picked a spot to sit for World of Color and put my feet up. Because I hadn't gotten to the park until later in the day, the best spots (that area that I loved so much yesterday that was empty but had a great view) were already taken up with people that had gotten Fastpasses for that spot, or had done a dinner reservation with a special viewing spot. I had to wait across the path right in front of The Little Mermaid. I was in the front of that section, but I had tree cover that really prevented me from seeing the full show. But honestly, that was okay with me.

I spent the hour that I waited for the show to start on the phone with my older brother, and we mostly talked about Star Wars, among other things. But it made the time fly.

World of Color was very nice - I had heard the whole show before and had seen snippets here and there, so there wasn't anything really surprising. But it does hit right in the feels at some points - especially when it shows family videos of trips to Disneyland from the 50s through now. I was glad that I was finally able to see it in person.

California Adventure closed at 10:00, but Disneyland was actually open until midnight. With that in mind, I made my way across the esplanade, hoping to knock off a few more attractions on my Disnyland must-do list. The first one I wanted to do was it's a small world, which was at the back end of the park.

When I arrived, I was surprised to see that Paint the Night was just ending, but it was going in the opposite direction that it had been going when I saw it on Friday! Instead of coming from the castle down Main Street USA, it was instead starting at Main Street USA and heading towards the castle. As I came in, the final float - the one with Sorcerer Mickey with the giant gyroscope light show behind him - was going around Town Square and heading down Main Street USA.

At this point, a light dawned in my head. I had heard from a few podcasters that one of the best things to do after a parade is to get right behind the rope at the end and follow the parade down its route! And since I was heading in that direction anyway, I might as well take advantage of the situation!

I was only one person, so it was very easy for me to maneuver through the crowd that had already gathered behind the final float. I dodged strollers, parents, slow-moving hand-holding couples, kids, and more. By the time the float had made it to the Hub, I was positioned at the perfect point: there was a group of college-age girls to my right, a grandma-mother-son trio in between me and the girl group, and a few single stragglers to my left. This group that was right behind the float was an amazing group of which to be a part, because we just danced and sang the whole way down! The loop for the song is about 4 minutes, but every time it started up again we got more excited than the time before.

The parade exited right at the it's a small world attraction, so I immediately hopped on the short queue (all of it is outdoor, which is crazy, in my opinion) and toured around. It was still the "holiday" version, so the normal theme tune was mixed with "Jingle Bells." It was cute, and I was able to see some of the Disney tags they put in this version that aren't present in the one at Walt Disney World.

Fantasyland was much lighter than it's usual craziness, so I ended up going on the Pinocchio ride as well. Man, that movie is crazy. I don't need to watch it again if I don't have to.

I was craving soft-serve ice cream at this point, but the only place I knew in Disneyland that had ice cream was the normal stuff at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. I did nothing I never usually do: I bought a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

I took it to the Hub and ate it on a bench right by the "Partners" statue, enjoying the relative quiet of the area as people left the park. Once my food was done, I also exited the park, excited for the fact that the next day, I could actually sleep in!

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