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Old 12-31-2012, 08:48 PM   #16
heaven2dc
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LAX is so different than any other airport I've traveled to as well (I moved here 6 months ago and while it's great for getting dropped off/picked up, I agree it's weird about where they place the car rental companies). The Grove has become a place I like to venture at least once a month - esp the Farmers Market! Your description is so perfect - I ventured over there to take some pics around the same week you guys were there (I took these with my phone so didn't come out too well):







The Hobbit Exhibit was sort of interesting - and I agree that tree is HUGE! Am glad you got to experience the Grove and Farmer's Market at least.

Love your Universal pics! Definitely a must-do soon esp since they are offering "buy one day pass and get 2013 free!" Daniel is SO adorable - he looks like he is having a blast and taking in all the sights! Love your description of the backlot tour and the rides - makes it easy to visualize and also appreciate the tips on which side is best to sit on the Tram - thanks!

What type of camera do you use? Your nighttime photos are awesome! The Grinch tree is truly amazing!
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:16 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heaven2dc View Post
Love your Universal pics! Definitely a must-do soon esp since they are offering "buy one day pass and get 2013 free!" Daniel is SO adorable - he looks like he is having a blast and taking in all the sights! Love your description of the backlot tour and the rides - makes it easy to visualize and also appreciate the tips on which side is best to sit on the Tram - thanks!

What type of camera do you use? Your nighttime photos are awesome! The Grinch tree is truly amazing!
Thanks. Universal has always been special to me as growing up whenever we went to Disneyland we would also go to Universal. If we lived in the area Universal is a place I would likely have an Annual Pass to as it is very reasonably priced. At least until all the Expansion with Harry Potter is finished there lol.

As for my camera its not anything too special. Its a Canon AS4000 Point and Shot Camera that I picked up on Black Friday earlier this year. Its able to capture some pretty good night photos without using the Flash and without a Tripod. I think thats why i've liked these Canon cameras so much. Although i've noticed recently comparing to old photos that the pictures I took with my Samsung Cameras are more bright and Vibrant color wise where the photos from the Canons are more Natural colored.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:31 PM   #18
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Day 2: Newport Beach

The 2nd day of our trip was our first full day in Sunny Southern California. It would also be a take it easy kind of day as we did not plan to visit any Theme Parks today. Because of the easy day planned we really took our time getting ready for the day. With the exception of Daniel falling off the bed in the middle of the night (meaning he got a bed on the floor the rest of the trip) we took advantage of the down day and sleept in as long as Daniel would allow us to.

We just had breakfast in the Hotel Room and Daniel quickly realized that the Hotel room didn't seem to have enough space to be able to play around in. By the time we finished getting ready for the day it was around 1pm in the afternoon. Our plan for today was simple. We were gonna take Daniel to the Beach so that he could see the Ocean for the first time.

Timing worked out great for being able to quickly meet up with my Cousin who was also vacationing at the Disneyland Resort at the time. They left on there trip 2 days before we did and accidentally left there $50 Disney Gift Card at home (they drove to cali). She gave me a call and had me go to there house to pick up the gift card to bring with us on our trip. Since they were already spending there 2nd of 3 days in the parks they were running out of time to use the Gift Card.

It worked out great as when we were leaving the Hotel they happened to be about ready to head back to there Hotel so there kids could take a nap. So we figured we would just meet up at the Guest Drop Off Area so I could give them the Gift Card. We were a short Drive from the Harbor Dr. Drop off area but it was kind of confusing to get in to and I missed it the first time we passed by. So I had to make another lap down Harbor and try again. Once we parked in the Drop Off area we only waited about 5 minutes before my Cousin and her Family arrived to pick up the Gift Card from us. They told us about how the parks were and how crowded it seemed but they said overall it wasn't too bad. We would know tomorrow as we would be meeting up with them for our 1st day in the parks and there 3rd and last day.

Prior to heading to the Beach we wanted to check out the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet Store located in Fullerten. We really liked the Character Warehouse Outlets in Orlando and found some great deals on Disney Park merchandise there. However let me tell you that the California version is nowhere near as good at the Orlando shops. In fact the shop isn't even ran by Disney Anymore. Its just a generic Suvinior type store that sold all kinds of things. Not just Disney. Its not even Called the Disney Character Warehouse. Its just called the Character Depot. Anyways we were very dissapointed in the store as the Disney park merchandise was few and far between. And if you found anything it was dated 2009. We obviously didn't buy anything.



Since it was now later in the afternoon we were getting hungry so we decided to get some food for lunch as well before heading out to the beach. Since the Character Depot was located in a strip mall type area we just walked a few doors down to a Mexican Food Place called Baja Fresh. We saw these all over Southern California so it is obviously a chain. However we don't have them in Utah so we figued we would give it a try. Plus on Saturday and Sunday Kids eat free there with a paying Adult meal and Drink. I got a Burrito and Kiera got a Salad and we both thought it was pretty good. Plus we were able to get Daniel a Quesadila for free. I don't know if its a place we would eat at regularly but it was a nice change from the food we are use to.

With our Stomachs full it was time to head out to the Beach. After doing alot of research and having visited other nearby beaches like Hunington Beach and Santa Monica on prior visits we decided to drive over and check out Newport Beach. From where we were at the drive took us around 30 minutes to make dispite it not being physically too far away. You gotta love California Traffic.

In theres 2 piers along the actual "Newport Beach". Theres Newport Pier and then further down a couple more miles is the Balboa Pier. We decided to drive down to Balboa as the pinnesela that the Beach runs along is thinner down there making walking around to the Harbor side easier. Parking was easy to find and we parked right at the Pier for a small cost.

As we got out of the car we could tell that it was a bit cooler here in Newport then it was back in Anaheim. Although the day was really nice and sunny and warm there was a fairly cool breeze coming off the ocean. The beach was only a few steps away from where we parked. However to get on the beach from the parking lot we had to climb a small sand hill while carrying Daniel in his stroller. It didn't take long tough and then we were on the beach looking over the Pacific Ocean.





On the Beach we got Daniel out of his Stroller to see what he thought of it. Seeing the Water, Hearing the Waves Crash, Feeling the breeze coming off the Ocean. Frankly we aren't sure what he thought. He just kind of staired lol. So Kiera put him down to actually stand in the Sand. And then he really didn't know what to do. He just stood there probably thinking we were crazy cause the sand was kind of cold.




He eventually sat down in the sand and tried picking it up and play with it but he honestly never got too in to that sand stuff. He kind of had the same reaction the he had with the snow. He would pick the sand up in his hand and look at it and that was the extent of his playing in the sand. Maybe he would enjoy it more if wasn't cold.











Then we really became mean parents when we stuck Daniels Feet in the Ocean because he couldn't go to the Ocean for the first time and not touch it lol. Although he never actually cried you could tell that he wasn't happy with us putting his feet in the cold water.








We spent some more time walking down the beach and watching the ocean. It was really nice and relaxing although I missed seeing the Surfers like you would find at Hunnington Beach.




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Old 01-02-2013, 02:32 PM   #19
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After spending enough time on the beach we loaded Daniel back into the stroller and decided to go walk over to the other side of the Pennisela checking out some of the shops along the way. The Newport "Boardwalk" runs thru the middle of the shops area and if you follow it North it will take you back to the Newport Pier. Though the Boardwalk isn't made of wood at all and is actually more of a paved bike trail.





We passed many little shops and Restaurants and were suprised at how short the walk was to the Harbor. The dock and area on the Harbor side felt much more like a boardwalk then the actual board walk did. Lining on one side is more shops and restaurants and even some aracdes. On the other side is the actual docks with hundreds of boats and yahts scattered about.




One of the things people raved about doing in Newport was visiting the Balboa Fun Zone. We really weren't impressed at all by it though. All it was was more Shops and Restaurants with a Ferris Wheel and Arcades. They also have a Sea Life Musium but we didn't check it out as I wasn't sure if it cost money or not. Also in the Fun Zone area is the Balboa auto ferry that takes you across to Balboa Island. I guess that its the only Auto Ferry running in California or something like that. It does cost money to go on though. Wether you take a car with you or not.







Prior to our trip I had considered doing a Harbor Cruise of Newport and this is where the company was located that offers the tours. It was something that seemed like it would be fun to do and we even considered doing it today if they took walk ins. However we barely missed the start of there final sailing of the day so that settled that choice. It was fun seeing some of the boats in the Harbor though as they had already started being decorated for the Christmas cruise that we unfortunatly barely missed.

After walking past the Balboa Fun Zone area you get back into the residential type Beach Houses that line the Harbor. Each house seemed pretty unique and of course also had there own private dock for there boats and Yahts. Some of them were decorated for Christmas and it would probably have made for a fun walk after dark to see the decorations lit up. I was shocked at how little land these houses are built on though and how close they are to one another.









We started to head back towards the Balboa Pier but as we walked back thru the Fun Zone I had to stop and buy a Frozen Banana. I had never had one before or even seen them for that matter. Kiera said she use to have them all the time. What they are is Bananas on a stick that is then chocklate dipped and frozen. Then they will put sprinkles or nuts on them. I just got a Sprinkle coverd one and thought it was a pretty good treat. Daniel really liked it as well.


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Old 01-02-2013, 02:34 PM   #20
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With our Frozen Banana in hand we made our way back to the Beach and Pier area where we decided to walk the Pier until the sun set. I had never watched the Sun Set from a beach before and wanted to do it tonight. Yes I have been on many cruises to exotic beach type locations. However i've always seen the sun set from the Cruise Ship. Never from the beach. With the sun already going down we didn't have much time to kill.








The Pier itself seemed to be the most happening place that we walked past today as there were still many people out fishing. At the end of the Pier is also a diner called Rubys. Many piers down the California cost have these Diners on them however the one located on the Balboa Pier is the Original and first one. It would have been fun to try but having just ate a couple hours earlier we weren't hungry yet for dinner.







As we walked back down the Pier the Sun finally started to set and I finally got to see what I had hoped to see. The Sun Setting on the Beach and over the Ocean is a beautiful site although Kiera says it couldn't compare to a Sunset from a tropical island like Hawaii that she has seen nemorous times. Still it was great for me to see while in the company of my family.









We had fun with the short time we spent in Newport Beach. It was really quite while we were there and the beach was clean and pretty. However i'm sure the place is completly different during the Summertime when you would actually want to be at a beach. Its diffenitly a place I would visit again but next time it will be when we could spend more time there and when its much warmer. I would have loved to play in the water and also take a Harbor Tour. So thats something I will look in to next time we go.

With it now getting darker with the sun being down we made our way back to the car and started the drive back to Anaheim and our Hotel. The drive back was quicker then it was coming as the traffic wasn't nearly as bad. Before we knew it, we were back relaxing in our Hotel room.

But you wouldn't think we would end our day now would you. No of course not. The evening just started. Although don't expect anything too exciting lol. One of the things we looked forward to the most about our hotel was the fact that it had a Heated Pool and Hot Tub that were open all year. So we changed into our swimsuits and went out to swim for a little bit. This was Daniels first time in a Hot Tub and he loved it. Especially when the bubbles were on. And don't worry we didn't keep him in there very long. But the kid is basically a fish. I've never seen a kid who loves the water like he does. Doesn't matter if its the tub or a Pool he just loves to play in the water. Each time we used the Pool over the course of our trip we always pretty much had it to ourselves. I guess everyone else thought it was too cold outside where we thought it felt nice.



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Old 01-02-2013, 02:35 PM   #21
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Right as we were finishing swimming we heard the explosions of the Disneyland Fireworks start to echo thru the Sky. Being that our Hotel is located right next to the backstage areas of Disneyland we were probably closer to where the shells are lit then most park guests are. And with the absense of music and sound the explosions of the fireworks were much, much louder. From where we were at the pool we could see some of the firworks from above the buildings of the Hotel but we could see pretty much all of them from between the building where the walk ways were at.








After watching the Fireworks we returned to our room where we gave Daniel a bath and then changed back into our normal clothes to go back out to find Dinner. We also forgot a few things at Ralphs the night before but we decided to check out another local Grocery Store. Back in Salt Lake City we recently had our first Trader Joes open up that people seem to be going crazy for. Not wanting to fight the crowds though we decided to check it out in Southern California as these stores seem to be located everywhere. The closest one to our hotel though was about 15 minutes away. The Store itself was relativly small but still fairly busy. I didn't realize though that they are mostly an Organic or Natural type food store. We didn't do much shopping here but we did pick up some of there Holiday treats that people seem to rave about. We got there Candy Cane Joe-Joes which were similar to Peppermint Oreos and also some Peppermint Pretzel thins. Both were pretty good snacks and lasted us until the trip was over and even beyond. Trader Joes didn't have everything we needed though so we went in to the Rite-Aid next door where we got the rest of the stuff we needed.



For dinner tonight we kept it simple and just went to a Subway located just across the street from Trader Joes. I intentinally wanted to get away from the Resort area when looking for a Subway as I know sometimes the ones close to Tourist destinations don't offer the $5 foot longs. It wasn't anything major for dinner but it was good and was filling. Although I did think it was odd that they were out of White Bread.

After Dinner we returned to our hotel room where we actually stayed for the rest of the night. Kiera decided to shower tonight to help save time getting ready in the morning as the morning would be coming very quickly. We tried going to bed early tonight as we had a big day ahead of us tomorrow. It would be our First day back at the Disneyland Resort and we had plans of being in Disney California Adventure at 8:30am to get in the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass line before the park opened for the day. We had a big day ahead of us and we needed all the rest we could get. Good thing we were able to fall asleep quickly.




And that concludes this update. Thanks everyone for your comments and support. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. And watch for my next update as it will be the 1st update about our time at the Disneyland Resort. Thanks again.
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Old 01-02-2013, 11:30 PM   #22
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What a fun day at the beach! Great pics - esp of Daniel at the beach and your family pics The sunset pics are awesome - something special about being on the beach with your family makes it especially more awesome. Loved your relaxing day
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:19 PM   #23
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Great beach pictures, especially the ones of Daniel playing in the sand.

That is really something special, to be able to see the DL fireworks from your hotel!! Can't beat that.

Looking forward to your DCA morning!
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Old 01-05-2013, 11:45 PM   #24
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Day 3, Part 1: Disney California Adventure

At 6:30am our alarms started going off for the day. Our first day at Disney was upon us and we had hoped to make it to Disney California Adventure at least 30 minutes prior to park opening so that we could get a decent spot in the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass Line. I was up first and got showered. While Showering Kiera also got up and started getting ready leaving only Daniel left however he still had to feed that morning before leaving the Hotel. As he feed I got his stroller out of the car and packed up. I also got the Ice in our Cooler switched out for the day to keep our cold items cool. We were soon on our way to the park though.

One of the reasons we chose the Hotel we did was because of its close proximity to the parks. The gate enterance was about a 1 mile walk away. And if we decided we didn't want to make the full walk we could always hop on the Tram at the Mickey and Friends parking structure that was right next to our hotel. Although we were a close walk to the parks we didn't know how much time it would take to walk there. We also didn't get out of the hotel as quickly as we planned leaving the hotel only 5 mintues prior to the time we planned to be at the park. I'm pretty sure we couldn't walk to the park within 5 minutes.

The walk to the park was fairly quite as we didn't encounter any other park guests until we were on the corner of the Parking Structure. If staying at this hotel don't be scared of the walk. Its thru a nicer area of Anaheim and we never felt uncomfortable making the walk. Even after nightfall. We walked quickly from the hotel to the park and in total the walk took only about 15 minutes.



Passing thru Security was quick and easy as there was no line. However there was still a fairly large line in the Esplanade waiting to get into DCA. This was our first look at the New DCA. We had finally returned. As a reminder when we visited in 2008 part of the reason why was so that we could see DCA in its original state as I had never visited that park and its multi-year, Billion Dollar Plus Renovation was just beginning. This trip was in part so that we could see all the Changes that happend at DCA over the previous 4 years.

The entry way to the park is the first change you will come across. Instead of walking into a Postcard you now enter the park thru a recreation of the Pan Pacific Auditorium enterance. Yes gone are the CALIFORNIA letters that so many people enjoyed taking photos with. And yes this is the same style enterance that is also used at the Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida. Although It seems bigger and more well done in California then it is in Florida.



Do to an increase of Ticket Fraud the Disneyland Resort is also now ID'ing everyone (except minors) who have multiday tickets. So make sure you have your ID and your park ticket ready to go before you get to the Turnstyle. It seemed like the biggest hold ups in the line were from people who didn't have there ID's ready to go. For those of you who do the Citypass like we did you will present your Plastic Citypass card here at the turnstyle. After the CM's Scan it though and check your ID they will print you out new 3 day Parkhopper Paper Tickets that you will use for all of your Disney days. You won't need your Citypass card anymore during your time at Disney.

After passing thru the turnstyles you find yourself on the New Buena Vista Street. The new entry way into DCA is leaps and bounds better then the old Sunshine Plaza. Yes the very few neat features of Sunshine Plaza are gone such as the Golden Gate Bridge. Now in its place is a street made to look like Los Angeles from the 1920's. Basically what the town would have looked like when Walt Disney first came to California. In changing the Entrance they also made it larger by pushing the Turnstyles back to where the old CALIFORNIA letters were placed. Driving up and Down Buena Vista Street is the Red Car Trolleys that add alot to the area. Of course they weren't running yet though as the park wasn't open yet. At the end of the Street is the replacement of the Sun Hubcap thing. The Carthey Circle Theater which is pretty grand and beautiful and the perfect Weeney for Buena Vista Street and the cap on the opening act of the park. Buena Vista Street is very well executed and truely sets the mood for the park now. I dare go as far to say that Buena Vista Street might be my favorite Theme Park enterance. You could spend hours alone looking at all the details on the street. My one complaint about the street is how short it is. Even with extending the entrance out further into the Esplanda It still is a very short street.




We entered the park about 10 minutes later then we originally planned to. We found the Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass Line already stretching far back into the Hollywood Land area of the park. Luckly for us though my Cousin and her family were already in the park and had a spot in the RSR Fastpass line right in front of the Carthey Circle Theater. So we got in line with them. While waiting in line Kiera took Daniel back to the DCA photo center though to exchange out our Photopass+ Voucher. We decided prior to the trip to Prepurchase Photopass+ as it was only $69 and in addition to all the regular photopass pictures you get around the park and with characters you would also get your photos from the attractions that take your photo and also any Character Meals you do. When you purchase Photopass+ they will send you a voucher in the mail that you exchange in the parks for your special Photopass+ Card. It was something that we were happy we did as we ended up with nearly 250 photos after our trip.



As we were waiting in the Fastpass line a large group started to form across from the Theater as the parks rope drop was about to happen. It was soon 9am and the park officially opened to the public as most of that large group went rushing towards Carsland much like they do to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Orlando. The Fastpass line also started moving at this point. We ended up waiting about 12 minutes before we were at the RSR Fastpass machines located just outside A Bugs Land. Our Fastpass return time for the attraction wouldn't be until 11:05. However the Fastpasses today for RSR was disconnected from the rest of the park so if we wanted to we could get a Fastpass for another attraction immidiatly.



With our Fastpasses for RSR now in hand we were free to do whatever with our day. We accomplished what we wanted to be in the park at opening for. Our Cousin went to Carsland to find the rest of his family who was doing the minor Carsland rides before the crowds got too busy. We followed towards Carsland getting our first look down Route 66 into Radiator Springs. We also stopped at the Carsland Sign that had a Photopass photographer present but not a long line. For the Holidays Carsland is all decorated up for Christmas and the sign at the enterance was no different wishing you a Seasons Speedings. There is also a Snow Car present during the Holidays.








After getting our photo taken we decided at this time not to head in to Carsland yet. Instead we rounded the corner past the Pacific Warf and Paradise Pier areas and went back into the Grizzley Peak Recreation area. We were coming back here not to ride any rides but to grab a World Of Color Fastpass for the show later that evening. The Fastpass location for WOC is located at the Grizzly River Run ride. We were able to get the Fastpass in the Blue section for the only showing tonight at 8:15pm. The fastpass doesn't garrentee you a good viewing spot though. Just access into the best area for the show so if you want prime viewing for WOC you will still need to arrive very early and stake out a spot.







Next to Radiator Springs Racers the next ride that draws a long wait quickly in the Morning is Toy Story Midway Mania located in Paradise Pier so thats where we went next to make it the first ride of our day. This was my first time Seeing Paradise Pier not under construction and the Lagoon being full. When we came in 2008 the Lagoon was drained as construction for the World of Color infastructure was about to begin. The Sunwheel was also behind scafolding as it was changed into Mickey's Fun Wheel and the Games of the Boardwalk were also being rethemed at the time. The area looks much nicer when the Lagoon is filled with water then it did before lol.




In 2008 Toy Story Midway Mania was brand new and was the longest line we waited in that entire trip. Thats still the same today as it already had a 25 minute wait when we entered the line. Luckly for us my Cousin and her family had finished with Carsland and were already in the line for Toy Story when we arrived so we were able to hope in line with them waiting only about 5 minutes until we boarded the ride. Toy Story is a 3D interactive Dark Ride that takes you thru a series of Midway type games that the Toy Story characters have set up. From a ring toss to a baloon pop to even a dish breaking game. Its alot of fun and a ride I consider a must see at least once on your trip. Especially if your competitive like my Wife and I are with one another. When we rode this ride back in 2008 Kiera beat me on not only Toy Story Midway Mania but also on Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters as well. In Orlando earlier this year though I beat her each time we went on Toy Story and Buzz as well. So what would be the results this time. Well Kiera beat me this time. Keeping her undefeated in California thus far. Her score was 130,300 to my 127,300.





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Old 01-05-2013, 11:47 PM   #25
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So which version of the ride do I prefer? The one here in DCA or the Hollywood Studios version in Orlando. I do like the exterior facade of the DCA version more. The Victorian look of the facade fits the pier great and gives a very classic and elegant vibe to the whole area. The Mr. Potato Head Barker also makes more sense in DCA as he is postioned right at the front of the ride calling out to the people walking past on the pier to come try out the games/ride. Thats where it ends though. Once you enter the que in DCA its incredibly boring and bland. Hollywood Studios diffenitly wins as far as the que goes as the moment you walk into it you are already shrunk to to Toy Size and walking thru Andys bedroom as huge replicas of toys and games are all around you. Because of this emersion in Florida from Que to Ride (even the DCA version goes to Andys bedroom during the ride portion) I think Hollywood Studios version is better. Although the ride is good in both parks The que really adds to the experiance and makes the ride make more sense. Although the DCA version does not offer Fastpass like the Orlando version so the standby lines are typically shorter. Still the ride will draw one of the longest waits in DCA so try to ride early to avoid those lines.



After we were done with Toy Story we did the first ride that we would child swap on. Since we had the unique chance to be in the parks today with my Cousin and her Family it actually gave Kiera and I (as well as my cousin and her husband) a chance to ride some rides together. So Kiera and I walked right next door with my cousin from Toy Story to the enterance to the California Screamin Roller Coaster. This would be our first experiance with Child Swap at the Disneyland Resort. We expected it to be the same as it is in WDW but it is different. In WDW when you did Rider Swap they gave you a Fastpass card right at the entrance for the person sitting out with the Child to use later. Riderswap was different at almost every attraction. Some attractions gave us the card right in front of the attraction like in WDW. While others had us take a different card into the ride with us that we switched out for the riderswap before boarding the vehicle. Others gave us nothing and we just asked for it at the exit of the ride. Screamin was one that had us exchange later in the ride. They still verified at the enterance that we had a child we would need to do Riderswap for. They then gave us one of those time lanyards to exchange for the actual Riderswap card right before boarding.



As we entered the standby que for Soarin the wait was only posted at 15 minutes. My cousin took Daniel with her back to Toy Story where her family was already qued up to ride it again as it was one of her boys favorite rides. At this time in the morning they were only using one of the two load side for the coaster so the wait actually took just a little longer then 15 minutes. We were soon on the coaster though and on our way out above the Paradise Bay Lagoon where the Coaster then comes to a stop. The countdown begins 5-4-3-2-1 and then the Coaster launches down the track and up the first hill. Screamin is really a great coaster and one that puts a big smile on my face everytime I ride. The coaster is so smooth and is long too. Theres a reason that this is one of my favorite coasters and a ride I consider to be a Do Not Miss in DCA.



Although that doesn't mean the ride is without its flaws. Screamin is a ride that is still a reminder of the Old DCA. Not that the ride itself doesn't fit Paradise Pier but in that the Que is still the old Neon filled Cement waistland as it was not rethemed to the Victorian Look like most of the Pier was. The Song that plays during the ride also isn't the greatest thing i've ever heard. Some people complain because Screamin doesn't have a story to it. Honestly I don't think it needs one. The major point of the ride is to provide a backdrop to Paradise Pier and add energy to the area of the coaster moving thruout the area. It does that great. It also doesn't bother me that its a steel coaster themed to look like a Wood coster. So the ride is great. The Que not so much. I really hope with the success of the DCA relaunch that they finish converting the whole Paradise Pier area to the Victorian theme starting with retheming Screamin's que.

Obviously WDW doesn't have Screamin. But they do have a coaster that is kind of somewhat similar in Rockin Roller Coaster at the Hollywood Studios. Yes RNR is and Indoor Coaster but its similar in that both coasters have a launch and inversions. Honestly Its a tough choice trying to decide which one is better. I like that RNR actually has a Story to it and the Arrowsmith Music is much better however Screamin is much smoother and its such a blast to watch the Pier all around you just as if you were riding a coaster on a boardwalk. Although I think RNR may be Disney's best Indoor coaster I think I would give the slight edge to Screamin as the better of the two. With a new soundtrack and Que Screamin would win in my opinion by a larger margin.

At the exit of Screamin is stand where you can view and purchase your ride photos. Typically in the past this isn't something we've cared for. Yeah we would look at the photo and maybe even take a picture with our camera and that was the extent of it. But remember on this trip we decided to purchase the Photopass+ and therefore our ride photos were included. Loading your ride photo to Photopass+ is very easy. You just need to take note of your photos number then go over to the kiosk, tell the CM your number, hand them the Photopass+ card, let them scan it and your done. They will also hand you a reciept to verify the photo loaded to your card. I'm pretty sure by the end of the trip that Photopass+ likely paid for itself in the ride photos we got alone.

After our photo was loaded to the Photopass we walked back over to Toy Story to wait for my Cousins Family and Daniel to finish on Midway Mania. We walked around the exit shop for a bit and then noticed that the Mr. Potato Head Barker was out from behind the cover talking to people on the boardwalk. As we were watching it do its thing we noticed my Cousin coming up the que towards the loading area of the ride. I figured since they hadn't rode yet then there was no need for them to take Daniel with them so I asked a CM if it was ok If I grabbed my son from them. He opened the Alternate Enternace gate for me (I belive it was the former Single Rider Line) so they I could grab Daniel. After grabbing Danny and walking back out towards Kiera the CM asked if we would like to hop in line and ride the ride with the rest of our party. Heck yeah we would. They let us thru the Alternate Entrance and handed us some 3d glasses and we loaded into the Ride Vehicle with no wait. I wasn't planning on riding Toy Story again but it was way cool that they let us cut in line to ride again with my Cousin and her family.




The first time we rode I had Daniel on my Lap and Kiera managed to beat me. This time Kiera held Daniel on her lap so I figured I would have the upper hand this time. As the games started both Kiera and I realized how exhausting it could be pulling that little string to shoot the gun. We were both tired and it was starting to hurt to pull it lol. Daniel loves all things Toy Story and we tried getting him to wear the glasses while on the ride but he wasn't having it. He just wanted to play with them. Even though he couldn't see clearly though he still loves the ride especially when he would see and hear the characters. In the end I thought not having Daniel would give me the win over Kiera. I was wrong as this time around she not only beat me but distroyed me winning 155,800 to my 120,200. She remains undefeated in California and not only did she beat me this round but she also got the Best in Vehicle score for the day as well.




After our unexpected spin on Toy Story my Cousin and her Husband took the Riderswap Card and went over to take there ride on Screamin. While they went on the coaster we took Daniel and there Boys over to King Tritons Carousel to take a spin while we waited for them to return. The wait was very short as we were able to get on the next ride then the one currently going. Daniel had rode on 1 Marry-go-round before and the was the one in Suess landing at Islands of Adventure earlier this year. That ride turned from fun to kinda scarey for him as he enjoyed sitting on the animal but did not like the up and down going around motions. So would he like this one? Yes he absolutly loved it this time. Especially since for the most part he can support and hold himself up now on them. The only thing that was unexpected was when the ride E-Stopped right after it started. I almost fell over myself. We aren't sure why it stopped but they had to come around again and recheck the belts. By the time we were done my Cousin and her Husband were already done with Screamin. They seemed to enjoy it as it was a ride they didn't plan to ride.








By the time we finished on the Carousel our Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers had become avalible to use so we started to make our way towards Carsland. Instead of walking down from the Carsland Sign into the heart of Radiator Springs we went in the back way. Cutting thru the Pacific Warf area. Many people claim that if you want a true WOW moment then this is the way you should first enter Carsland. They are not lieing. The view of the Cadillac Mountain Range is jaw dropping and breath taking as you see the whole view of the valley. It is simply amazing what Disney has done with the rock work here. The WOW moment was "Almost" as good as the first time we approched Hogwarts castle in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.






As we walked further down Cross Street you can see the ride vehicles from Radiator Springs Racers racing thru the desert. They even have sound effects of engine noises to help hide the squeal that is so familiar at Test Track that the vehicles make. When we got to Route 66 it was very obvious that just like the Wizarding World, Carsland was the popular spot of DCA as there were people everywhere. It was pretty amazing to see the land up close though. Its seriously like you just walked into the movies. Radiator Springs is done perfectly. Red the Firetruck had just pulled out to meet guests. But we didn't have time for that. We turned and headed towards the Courthouse. Next to that is the enterance to RSR.




We once again planned to Rider Swap so that we could get multipule rides on RSR. Dispite both of our families having Fastpass we still asked for a Riderswap card at the entry to the que where on RSR they gave us the card right away. We were gonna let my Cousin and her husband and 1 of there boys go first (there 2nd boy wasn't tall enough) but there other son started to have a melt down once the started to leave. Instead they let Kiera and I go first and we took there oldest son with us. They had already rode it twice before so it wasn't a huge priority for them. As you enter the Que you walk thru the desert landscape before going under a bridge and finding yourself in Stanleys Oasis. If you havn't seen the CarsToon that was created specifically for the rides que backstory when Stanley founded Radiator Springs he created his Oasis to sell Radiator Caps to vehicles traveling across the desert. It is located right next to the actual "Radiator Spring" which you will pass and see water bubbling out of in the que. The load area was a hotel type place called the comfy caverns.





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Old 01-05-2013, 11:49 PM   #26
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Right before we were to the Fastpass Merge Point something that I should have expected to happen, Happened. The Ride went down. For nearly 20 minutes the ride sat quite. We waited and waited and contemplated about leaving and coming back since we hadn't turned in the Fastpasses yet. But then the ride started cycling again. Vehicles were running empty and every now and them a CM went by in one. Then it went silent again for nearly 10 more minutes only to start cycling once again. Nearly 50 minutes had now passed since we got in line. The Fastpass Line. Finally the entire Que started cheering and Clapping. They announced the ride was ready to go again. Within 10 minutes of the ride starting back up we were finally boarding. This would be the longest wait we had for any ride the entire trip. I hope it will be worth it.






You load into your car which just like the characters in the movies has Windshield Eyes and smile in the bumper. Each car is also painted about 6 different colors and theres even a couple different headlight and taillight designs on the cars. As you start moving to the Seatbelt check the Saftey message comes on in Sheriffs voice followed by the Saftey message repeated in Spanish by Ramones. This over the rumbling of the vehicles Engine. I loved these little touches. After the Seatbelt your on your way as the ride starts outdoors at a slow pace as you cruise thru the Ornament valley like Lightning and Sally Do in the First film. You pass under an archway and then have that same moment as you approch a beautiful waterfall. Then you enter the showbuilding where your nearly ran off the road by Mack and then you cut of Van and Mini who still seemed to be lost. As you approch a Railroad crossing the vehicle speeds up as you attempt to beat the train but you turn at the last minute only for Sheriff to come out behind the Radiator Springs sign telling you to slow down. Next up Mater approches the vehicle asking if you want to go Tractor tipping. As you approch the tractors Mater tells you what to do and your car honks its horn turning the tractors on there backs. Not happy about this Frank appears and the vehicle speeds up as your chased away. You the enter the Town of Radiator springs where you see the full size animatronics of the residents you haven't seen yet such as Sarge, Fillmore, Lizzy, Red, Sally, and Lightning. This is where the track splits into two as you will be directed into Luigis Tires or Ramones Paint shop. This ride we went into Luigi's where you'll stop as Luigi and Guido put some new White Wall tires on your car for the race. Theres even a mirror effect to show off your tires before and after. You then roll into a garage where Doc is on a lift giving you advice for your big race. As you pass by and stop you see Luigi and Guido again ready to start the race then the 2nd vehicle pulled up next to us. Then the race starts as you shoot back outdoors and race the other car thru the mountains around some steeply banked curves and bunny hills as the cars switch off who has the lead. With the Finish line in site the other car pulled slightly ahead of ours and won the race. The ride ends as you enter Taillight Caverns and see Lightning and Mater again who are now talking about your race. You won't typically spend alot of time in here but for some reason our vehicle stopped for a couple of minutes as we waited at the track merge with about 6 more vehicles backed up and waiting in the caverns behind us. We were soon unloaded and walked passed the photo location where we once again loaded the photo from the ride to our Photopass+ card.









So was RSR worth the hour that we ended up waiting for it do to its breakdown? Well it depends on how long you'd wait for any ride. Personally I don't think any ride is worth and hours wait. RSR being no exception. Now let me first say that RSR is an amazing ride and is not to be missed. I highly recommend getting to the park early to get the Fastpass or just use Single Riders though as this thing gets a long line and keeps it all day. Especially with the frequent breakdowns it still has. Disney hit it out of the park with this ride. Its a top notch attraction with not only a thrilling race section but the Animatronics are turely incredible. Its amazing how articulated the characters are inside the ride. Like they were pulled right out of the movie. Is it the best ride in Disney California Adventure? Yes I would say it is. Is it the best Ride in the whole Disneyland Resort? I wouldn't say so. I would still place Indiana Jones and maybe even Splash Mountain above it. Still its a world class attraction that the Resort and more so the Park was in desperate need of. I think the Test Track technology was put to much better use on RSR then it is on Test Track. More then anything in a theme park world where Screen based attractions seem to be becoming more and more regular it was refreshing to see a ride rely one physical sets, amazing rock work, and animatronics and still give a true E-Ticket experiance. I thought the ride felt just right length wise and would only say I wish there was more to the leasurly cruise at the beginning of the ride. Compared to Test Track RSR is the better of the 2 although I think the "break test", "switchbacks", and Higher speed do make Test Track slightly more of a thrilling ride. However I still havn't rode the New Test Track so these comparisons are to the old version of the ride.

It had been over an hour now since we left Daniel with my Cousin and went on RSR. We called to find where they were at and she told me they were in Bugs Land letting there younger son ride some rides there while they were waiting for us. Daniel had fallen asleep so they were just taking it easy. We walked back on to Route 66 looking at some of the Carsland Christmas decorations on the way. The streets have Garland strung up above them made out of Airfilters and tires and Wrench snowflakes. At the Courthouse The Stanely statue is more festive wearing a Santa Hat and hauling a bag of toys. The City Christmas tree was covered in different hubcaps. It was all very fun and unique to what you would expect in a world of living cars. They even recorded some original versions of Christmas songs to make them more relatable to Cars. I loved it. We turned down Cross street again walking Past Luigis Flying Tires where there is an enterance to Bugs Land,.






In Bugs Land we quicly found my Cousin and Daniel who had now just woke up from his nap. They too were done with Bugs Land so we made our way out of the land and into Hollywood Land finding ourselves right in font of the Tower of Terror. This was another ride that my Cousin had not rode yet do to having a younger child so since we were there with them we took there younger son while She, Her husband, and oldest son went to ride. They also grabbed a Riderswap for us so that Kiera and I could ride as well afterwards. There youngest son once again had a minor freakout as his parents and brother entered the Hollywood Tower Hotel but he calmed down quickly when he realized we were going to another ride to kill the time why we waited.



That ride just a short walk down the road is the Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue ride. Since the ride is now located in the Hollywood Backlot area its almost kind of hard to find as its hidden behind the stages and infastructure built for the night time partys known as the Mad T Party. As with our previous visit this ride is practically always a walk on. I honestly don't know why this is because I think its a pretty solid and good Family Dark Ride. The ride takes you on a Taxi Ride thru Monstropolis as the events of the Movie unfold. You follow Mike and Sulley around as they try to get Boo safely back home. Its not thrilling at all but its a decently long ride with some alright effects in the ride. For being converted from what was left over from the crapfest that was Superstart Limo I think Disney did just fine on this ride and I don't understand the hate it seems to get. I think the ride is better then all of the Fantasyland Dark Rides in Disneyland with the exception of maybe Roger Rabbit and Alice in Wonderland. I also think it was better then the Little Mermaid ride also located in DCA. Daniel really loved it as well but its also one of the movies that he loves.




With no wait for Monsters Inc we were done before my Cousin and her family were at the Tower. We took the time to use the Restrooms and also change Daniels diaper. Soon though they were done and it was very clear that there son that went on it with them was not happy about the ride at all and didn't like it lol. It was soon our turn though as they took Daniel and there boys and went back towards Monsters Inc, we took the Riderswap card and now it was our turn for the Tower of Terror.



If your a WDW vet the first thing you'll notice about the DCA Tower of Terror is that it looks completly different from the version that is found at Hollywood Studios. Thats because this is the Value engineered version of the Tower of Terror. When bringing the Tower to California to try to help the struggling park Disney still didn't want to invest in building the Florida Tower. Instead they went back to the drawing boards for this (and future towers in Paris and Japan). They were able to increase capacity by designing the tower with 3 shafts instead of Floridas 2 and also introduced a two level loading system. But what they eleminated was the entire moving portion of the ride when the elevator leaves the shaft and entered the 5th dimension. You also exit the ride in the same location that you board which in my opinion also ruins the illusions of the ride. Still the DCA tower is a ride that should not be missed.

As you enter the Tower you enter the hotel lobby that is old and run down however its not as grand as it is in Orlando. The ride still has the exact same story line as the Orlando version which is told to you in the Library video. you then enter the boiler room where you head to your matinance service elevator for your trip to the Twilight Zone. Although in Cali the Boiler room isn't themed as good as Floridas and like I said earlier is multi-level. Although the attraction was dead enough where they only had one level open right now and honestly Riderswap didn't save us any time. We soon boarded the elevator and as it pulled back from the doors the whole room became a starfield. The doors close and the elevator started to raise only to open in front of mirror. However you will watch your reflextion fade into a ghostly image before the doors close and you move again. Now you look down a hallway where the ghosts of the 1930s guests appear to you and dissapear just like in Florida. Except for the window crashing a door opens and this is when you enter the Twilight Zone. The vehicle then starts its launches upwards and its drops back down. However unlike Florida the Drop sequence is not randomized and is the same in each shaft each ride. You then exit where you entered and then walk down what seems like an unthemed hallway to the exit gift shop.





It almost sounds like I really don't like the DCA version of the ride. But that couldn't be further from the truth. I do really love this ride. It would easily take the #2 spot for my best ride in the California Adventure Park. However it just pales in comparisson to the greatness that is the original Tower of Terror in the Hollywood Studios in Florida. That ride is amazing in practically every shape and form where in DCA you can tell where costs were cut. Still its a good ride that should not be missed. Just don't expect the Florida version when you ride.

After once again loading our ride photo from the Tower of Terror to our Photopass+ card walked back down towards the Monsters Inc. ride where my Cousins and her Family were just finishing up with there ride on the attraction. At this point in the day they had finished all that they wanted to do for there last time in California Adventure on the trip and wanted to spend there remaining time over at Disneyland. We originally planned to spend our entire first day in DCA however my Cousin and her Husband still had one ride they wanted to do that neither of the Children were tall enough to ride on. So we decided to walk over to Disneyland with them so that they could ride this attraction before heading home. So we packed the kids in the stroller and walked out of Hollywood Land and thru Buena Vista Street leaving DCA for now.



Our next destination was located a short walk across the Esplanade in Disneyland park. Man I love how easy park hopping is in California.





Well that concludes the update for today. Thanks for reading along everyone. Please ask any questions or comments that you may have. There will be two more updates coming from this day so stay tuned for them. Thanks again.
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Old 01-10-2013, 11:00 PM   #27
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Day 3, Part 2: Disneyland and California Adventure

I don't think I could honestly ever consider the extra cost of getting a Park Hopper ticket when visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. The Resort is so big and the parks so spread a part that you would waist so much time hopping between parks that it doesn't seem worth it. However a park hopper is pretty much a must have at the Disneyland Resort (unless your trying to keep your budget low). I also think the same thing about the Universal Orlando Resort with the 2 parks next to each other as well a Park to Park ticket is a must. As we exited California Adventure the walk across to Disneyland took no longer then 3 minutes to make. Thats shorter then it is to Walk from Universal Studios Florida to Islands of Adventure and you'd never be able to park hop in that kind of time at WDW. Just remember to have you ID and tickets out as you approch the turnstyle to speed up your entry if you have multiday tickets.

We were soon in Disneyland. In my opinion the Best and Greatest Theme Park there is. The park that every Theme/Amusment Park i've been to is compared to and none have been able to top it. The one and only park that Walt Disney himself walked in. We soon walked thru the Tunnels leaving the "real" world behind and entered a World of Yesterday, Tomorrow, and Fantasy. We exited the Tunnel on to Main Street USA that at the time was setting up the Candlelight Processional that would be taking place later that evening.




Having walked down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom only 7 months earlier I couldn't help but compare the two. But don't think thats a bad thing. Both are incredibly well done and very detailed. In Disneyland you have the Original. Designed by Walt himself. Its small and charming and at the end is the parks icon. Sleeping Beauty Castle. Yes the Castle is small. but its very charming and fits with the scale of Disneylands Main Street and Hub perfectly. Everything with the Magic Kingdom was intended to be built on a much larger and more Grand scale then it was originaly in Disneyland. This is no more evident then it is on Main Street as The Magic Kingdoms is much larger and Grand and the lead up to that parks icon Cinderella Castle is nothing short of Epic. Infact the Magic Kingdoms Main Street USA is probably one of the very few things I prefer about the Magic Kingdom over Disneyland.




As I mentioned earlier Kiera and I did not plan on hopping over to Disneyland today. Originally we were gonna spend the entire day over at DCA. But do to spending part of our time with my Cousin and her family, and this being there final day in the park, and the only time that we could Rider Swap while watching one anothers children, there was one attraction that they still wanted to do before leaving that neither of the kids were tall enough for. A ride that had just reopened from a Major referbishment not even 5 days earlier. The Indiana Jones Adventure. So at the end of Main Street we tightly turned left and entered Adventureland where the attraction is located.



Adventureland is another land that is Much, Much larger and more grand in the Magic Kingdom then it is in Disneyland. Adventureland is actually very small and gets pretty bottlenecked at the busier times of the day. I could only imagine how much worse it is during peak times of the year. Where in the Magic Kingdom Adventureland is devided into three smaller themed areas (An Arab, Polynesian, and Caribbean) theres just one generic Jungle theme that you'll see in Disneyland with the exception of the Arab facade to the now closed Aladdins Oasis. However dispite how small Disneylands Adventure land is they were able to make great use of the space as in addition to the Indiana Jones Adventure the area is also home to the Jungle Cruise, Enchanted Tiki Room, and Tarzans Treehouse.



When we arrived at the Indiana Jones Adventure Fastpass Machines we underestimated its popularity to it just recently reopening. The standby wait at this time was nearly 1 hour out and even the Fastpass return wouldn't be until 3:05pm. That was still 1 1/2 hours away at this point. Double the time I expected it to be as fastpasses are usually only 45 minutes out. We still pulled the Fastpasses and thought about what to do to kill the time.

Two days earlier on the first day that my Cousin and her Family started there Disneyland vacation they tried to get on Pirates of the Caribbean multipule times only to find the ride down each time they tried. Up to this point they still had not rode it and it was a ride that was on there childrens must see list. With plenty of time to kill before we could use the fastpasses for Indy we decided to check to see if it was open. Which to my cousins luck it was.

Unlike the Magic Kingdom, Pirates of the Caribbean is not located in Adventureland. Instead its in an area that Walt designed specifically around the attraction called New Orleans Square. In addition the Pirates the Haunted Mansion is also part of the area here in Disneyland. Although the attraction enterance for Pirates is pretty much right on the boarder of Adventureland. A word of advice if heading to Pirates from Adventureland is to stay left and not go over the bridge. This bridge will cross over the Pirates que and continue on into the rest of New Orleans Square.

We parked the strollers and then got in the line for Pirates of the Caribbean which had a posted 10 minute wait. This is a line that shouldn't scare you based on how long it looks. When we got in line we thought the line looked much longer then 10 minutes. We were wrong as it really did only take 10 minutes until we were boarding our boat. Although the exterior Facade is great for Pirates (along with Disneylands Dream Suite located above it) and I love seeing the returning boats float past as you first enter the building the Que for the Magic Kingdoms Pirates is much better then Disneylands. However that is the only + I give to the Orlando version of the ride as literally everything else is better in California.



After boarding your boat in the Disneyland version you start your journey as you slowly float thru the Louisiana Bayou. Theres Fireflys flying around you with the soft sounds of a banjo playing in the distance. To your right is the Blue Bayou restaurant. One of the most unique resturants i've seen as its setting is the bayou that your floating thru as part of the attraction. I've always wanted to eat there but its just way too expensive for our taist. After passing some rickity looking houseboats you come to the Skull and Crossbones warning you of the adventure ahead. Then just as the sound of a Waterfall approches you plunge down that waterfall into a dark cavern. As you drift thru this cavern you once again start to hear the sound of a Waterall and again you plunge down a 2nd hill. Something that the Magic Kingdoms abrivated version doesn't have. Now you find yourself in the Grotto where the Magic Kingdom version of the ride starts but in Disneyland you will also pass thru a shipwreck and very detailed tresure room.





From this point on the ride is almost the same as the Magic Kingdom version. Just like in Orlando Jack Sparrow and some friends were added to the attraction making it almost like an overly obsessed wheres waldo game as many of the pirates claim to be looking for Jack Sparrow. These movie additions seem to get alot of critisim from Disney fans but honestly its not something that really bothers me. Some of the Jack Animatronics don't seem to stand out unless your looking for them and its kind of fun to look for them. Although it does get old hearing Jacks name over and over again. Near the end of the ride you won't unload early like you do in Florida but instead you will ride the boat back up the lift hill and then float past all the people waiting in the que for there ride. You exit where you loaded and then walk past the Blue Bayou restuarant and exit into the heart of New Orleans Square kind of a ways away from where the enterance to the attraction is located.





To say that the Disneyland version of the ride is better then the Magic Kingdoms is an understatement. In my opinion the Original ride is a significantly better version of the ride as your seeing it as it was intended to be. Not the rush job that Florida thru together to appease dissapointed guests. It was really funny to watch Daniel on the ride as well as overall he really enjoyed it but you could tell that he was not a fan of the drops at all. Each time he heard those waterfalls he tensed up right away to prepair from them. Pirates is one of those attractions that should not be missed no matter what park it is located in.

Dispite Pirates taking up 30 minutes of our time we still had over an hour to go until our Fastpasses could be used at Indy. My cousin and her family decided to head over to Fantasyland to reride some rides however at this point in the day Kiera and I were starting to get hungry. Being so close to Adventureland though we decided to get one of our favorite Disney treats. A Dole Whip. I've mentioned it in past that I am not a fan of Pineapple. Yet for some reason I love Dole Whips. Although if your going to get one at Disneyland be prepaired to wait as the line was very long for them. Unlike at the Magic Kingdom that ran 3 or 4 registers for the taisty treat Disneyland was only running 1 (although I later learned that the short is often shorter buying it in the Enchanted Tiki room courtyard).




While Kiera waited in line for the Dole Whip I went back to the Bengal Barbeque to get us lunch. Don't expect to see very large meals sold at the Bengle BBQ though as all they serve are snack type Items. The main thing being BBQ Skewers. Although they aren't huge there is a suprising amoung of food on the scewers. And being fairly cheap you can buy a couple different kinds to share. And this is what we did. I got us a the Banyan Beef which is a Hot and Spicy Skewer, a Chieftain which is a Polynesian style, and the Safari which doesn't have beef or chicken on it but instead is Bacon wrapped Asparagas. The whole order only cost about $12 and was enough to feed both of us. We thought the food was good for what it was.



With our stomachs full we still had time to kill before meeting back up with my cousin and her family for our rides on Indy. We decided to walk back down to New Orleans Square to try and ride the other attraction located in this land. The Haunted Mansion. Which during the Christmas and Halloween Holidays is actually transformed with a Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. The attraction is very popular during the Holidays. So much so that its the only time of year that you can get Fastpass for the Haunted Mansion. And such was today too. When we got to the gates of the Mansion the posted wait was at 35 minutes. We wouldn't have enough time to ride so we passed it up today. As we were walking away we noticed down near the Rivers of America that Jack and Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas were out doing a Meet and Greet. We figured that could be a good way to kill some time too but they had already cut off the line.





With not enough time to do any attractions we decided to just walk the streets of New Orleans Square and look at some shops. Obviously New Orleans Square does not exist in Orlando as they got Liberty Square instead. If I had to compare the 2 New Orleans Square wins hands down. Its so unique and tranquil as its perched slightly higher above the rivers of america. The streets are fun to walk and the Christmas decor is pretty much one of a kind and the most unique decor you will find on property. The area is small and anchored at both ends by the two E-Tickets but its worth taking the time walking thru the area and checking it out.





The time had soon come that we would meet back up with my Cousin so we started to head back to Adventureland to meet them at Indy. Looking back on it now I don't know why we didn't just walk thru Tarzans Treehouse to kill some time. The views from above are pretty great and there is never any sort of wait to walk thru it. Unfortunatly We never did walk thru it during any part of our trip. We did walk thru it though on our 2008 trip so I am still able to compare it to the Magic Kingdoms Swiss Family Robinson Tree House. Many of you probably already know that Tarzans treehouse was at one point the Swiss Family Robinson as well. Unfortunatly Disney felt it needed to be plussed converting it to Tarzan and sticking lifesize Animated style stautes of the Tarzan movie characters thruout it. They took something so unique. An experiance that you could walk into the treehouse as if the Swiss Family Robinson welcomed you to explore there home. It doesn't have that feeling any more with these plastic statues characters everywhere now. This is one attraction that the Magic Kingdom still does better. Although I like the layout of Disneylands treehouse more.



A few minutes after we arrived at Indy my cousin and her family did as well. Since they had the Fastpass she and her husband went first and would grab us the riderswap card in the attraction. Indy is another one where they gave the time card that you exchanged for the Riderswap card right before boarding the ride. To kill the time why they were on Indy we took Daniel and there 2 boys next door to the Jungle Cruise. The time posted for the Jungle Cruise was 25 minutes however the Touringplans.com App said the true wait would only be about 15. With the upper level of the Jungle Cruise Que also in use I wasn't sure if the App would be right or not. I'm happy to say that dispite walking thru a small part of the upper Que that the app was correct and it only took about 15 minutes before we were boarding the boat for our cruise.


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Old 01-10-2013, 11:01 PM   #28
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Our cruise started at it was the first thing we noticed was how excited and energitic our Tour guide was. He was very funny and enthusiastic keeping us all very entertained. The Jungle Cruise is one of the those rides where a good Skipper can really make or break the experiance. Its also a ride i've become more fond of as i've gotten older as you pick up on the jokes easier then you do as a kid. All 3 of the kids really enjoyed the ride and loved looking at the Animatronic Animals. We didn't know before hand but this was a ride that my cousin hadn't taken there kids on yet so I was glad that were able to take them. Some unique features I love about the Anaheim version of the ride was that you float past Indys Temple of the Forbidden Eye and they even work the temple into there dialog. I was very happy to see that they still shot the Hippos as well in Disneyland as that didn't happen on our cruise in the Magic Kingdom. And lastly the Paranna attack is really cool and well done as well.





But those are the only things I would say are done better in California then they are in Orlando. I won't compare skippers as that will change on a ride to ride basis no matter which park your in. But overall the Magic Kingdom version of the ride wins the comparison of the two. It is another example of the Magic Kingdom trying to go bigger and grander then Disneyland. The ride is much larger and longer there then it is in Disneyland. They have more scenes and I loved the cave you travel thru in Florida that is missing in California. Overall the ride just seems much better there. Its also a Fastpass attraction in Orlando where its not in Anaheim.






Our timing couldn't have been any better as my Cousin and her Husband finished with Indy a couple minutes before we were done with the Jungle Cruise. We meet up and switched the kids and then with the Riderswap Card, Kiera and I entered the Fastpass line for Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. I was very excited for this ride. Indy is my favorite ride in the entire Disneyland Resort. Back in 95 my parents took us to Disneyland when the ride was brand new and my brother and I waited in line for nearly 3 hours to ride the thing. In 2008 the ride although not in perfect condition was still amazing and well worth the 2 rides we took on it. In fact this trip was delayed 1 week later then we originally planned so that we could be there when Indy reopened from its Lengthy Referbishment. I was very excited to see Indy in an almost new condition once again.



The Que is one of the most amazing parts of Indy. In my opinion it is probably the best Que that Disney has ever created in any of there US parks. Its really a shame that the Fastpass merge point is before you enter the Temple so now you breeze right on thru the amazing Que instead of wait in it. All of the waiting now is outside the Temple. The first signs of the Referb fix are evident in the Que as many of the effects are working once again. Although I missed the lever to trigger the cealing in the Spike Room we were still in it when someone else pulled the lever. Also the Rope gag works again as well that I couldn't resist not pulling. Seriously don't rush thru this que. Take your time and take it in. There aren't CM's everywhere telling you to keep up like there are in Hogwarts.






We soon arrived to the Load Platform and began our Journey deeper into the Temple. It was great to see the room door effect working again as last time we came it was stuck in one position. Unfortunatly somebody had to look in the Eye of Mara and all Hell started break loose as our Jeep speed thru the Temple. Indiana Jones then appears and starts to help us escape the curse of Mara. Everything looked great in the ride with many of the Laser and Fire effects working once again as we were chased thru the Temple. There were reports of many people saying that the Rolling Boulder at the rides Climax was working sparatically still however on our ride the boulder was diffenitly rolling. However you could barely make it out as the lighting on it was so poor. I remember the lighting on the boulder being much brighter in the past then it is now but maybe i'm wrong. Thanks to Indiana Jones we survived the curse and started making our way back out of the Temple.

This ride is AMAZING. Even after nearly 18 years this ride still packs a punch. While walking out I told Kiera that Indy is proof that they don't build rides like they use to. Where screen based attractions such Spiderman and Transformers are amazing and becoming the new normal for themed experiances theres just something about large scale three dimensional sets with animatronics and real fire effects that seem to be becoming more and more extinct. Yes Radiator Springs Racers Indoor portion features many of these things which is a relief. However None of the RSR indoor scenes are built on the scale that Indy is. Dispite how amazing the experiance is though I still prefer new version of The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman at Islands of Adventure over Indy. Although I would have picked Indy over the old version of Spiderman and still prefer Indy over Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Transformers. Infact the only Disney ride i've been on that which would barely edge out Indy in my opnion is the Magic Kingdoms version of Splash Mountain.

Although WDW does not have the Indiana Jones ride they do have a ride using the same Technology at the Animal Kingdom called Dinosaur. Its amazing how you can get such a different experiance with the same technology. Where Indy is simply stunning and amazing from start to finish Dinosaur is kind of a let down. Missing are the huge and large scale sets and in its place is a very dark jungle with dinosaurs jumping out now and then at the vehicle. The rides que isn't anything exciting and the ride vehicles are much rougher then Indys. I don't think the idea of Dinosaur is bad in itself it just seems like it wasn't executed very well. Still Dinosaur isn't a horrible ride. It was probably my 3rd favorite in that park. I would even say Dinosaur is a must see at Animal Kingdom. Just don't expect Indy when you ride it as you will find yourself dissapointed. Indy wins with no contest really and should absolutly not be missed.

As we exited Indy I couldn't find my Cousin and her Family anywhere. I tried calling her with No answer. We checked the Stroller parking and both strollers were gone so they must have taken the kids somewhere. We remembered that they mentioned that they wanted to do Pirates again so we thought maybe thats where they went. We walked back over to New Orleans square and sure enough we found both strollers parked in front of Pirates. Assuming they shouldn't be too long we grabbed both strollers and walked them over near the Pirates of the Caribbean exit. We didn't think we would have to wait too long but we ended up waiting over 20 minutes for them. I tend to underestimate how long this ride is. Eventually they did come out the exit though and my cousin mentioned again to us which we saw earlier with Daniel getting scared during the drops on the ride.




This was the point in our day where we would say goodbye to my Cousin and her Family. We had a great time being able to spend most of the day with them as Kiera and I got to ride 4 rides together that we would have had to go on alone otherwise. 3 of which were rides with photos that we were able to load to our photopass+ card as the attraction photos with both of us are much better then the ones with just one. My Cousin and her Family would be spending the remainder of there final Disney day in Disneyland Park. We though would be heading back to California Adventure for the remainder of our day. We made our way thru a busy Adventureland to an even Busier Main Street. With the Candlelight Processional starting in an hour the are was very packed and getting thru was tight and slow.




We soon exited the park and once again walked across the Esplanda back to DCA. We weren't the only ones with that plan though as there was a large crowd trying to enter that park as well. The line was longer now then it was in the morning. Once again i'm sure in part to people not having there IDs ready to go with there tickets. Again please plan ahead and have your ID's and tickets ready to go before you get to the turnstyles.


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Old 01-10-2013, 11:03 PM   #29
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After passing thru the turnstyles we were back in DCA on the beautiful Buena Vista Street. We were able to travel the street much slower this time compared to earlier in the morning as we weren't rushing to get in the RSR fastpass line. The land still amazes me as it is so well themed. Its seriously so hard to believe what was once there before. Its almost like Buena Vista street has always been there. The sound of Trolley bells as they traveled by, the sound of 1930s christmas music playing over the area, the window displays of the stores. Buena Vista street is such a magical place. The feeling I had in the area really can't be explained. I loved it. My only complaint is how relatively short the street is compared to say Main Street over in Disneyland or even Hollywood Blvd at the Hollywood Studios in Florida. Also although pretty I don't like the bridge passing thru the area. However its has to be there to cover up the Monorail track.








The park was preparing for the start of the Pixar Play parade at this time so much of the parade route was already being ropped off with many people sitting and waiting for the parade to start. We however didn't really care to see the parade so we made our way back to the back of the park and in to the Paradise Pier area. We were going to another ride that was new since our previous visit and became part of the New DCA. We were gonna go ride the Little Mermaid Ride.




Ariels Undersea Adventure only had a 5 minute wait posted but we pretty much walked right on to the ride. For being a new ride just like Toy Story Midway Mania the Que is rather unimpressive and bland. Although the coral and sea shells in the cement were nice touches. We quickly boarded our Clamshells that look like they could have been borrowed from the Nemo ride at Epcot and were were on our way under the sea. The ride is much like the Fantasyland Dark Rides and even other Dark Rides across the parks where it basically retells the story of the movie. The ride starts out strong and has some great animatronics. The Under the Sea scene of the ride is very bright and fun but it kind of takes you out of the feeling of being under the sea do to its size and the room really uses some of the most basic of basic Animatronics. The ride is paced nicely until you reach the Kiss the Girl scene as from that point on the ride and its ending are incredibly rushed. You won't even catch Ursalas "Death" unless your looking for it as it seems to be tucked away in the corner. I think the only ride with a worse ending is possibly the Snow White ride over in Disneyland. Its just sad that such a strong beginning is left with a very lackluster ending.






I have to give credit for Disney once again building a classic Dark Ride. A Dark Ride that DCA was in disperate need of (I still think they need a couple more). However this ride is not the E-Ticket second coming of the Haunted Mansion that Disney's PR and blog made it out to be. Although it uses the same omnimover ride system as the Haunted Mansion thats where the simularities end. The Little Mermaid ride isn't bad but its not the best Dark ride in the resort or even the park in for that matter. Daniel really enjoyed the ride though as he really liked dancing along with the music and i'm sure he loved seeing all the animals in the brightly colored scenes. We did stop on the ride shortly after it started for almost 5 minutes. We don't know what happened but a CM did run past us at one point. Still the LIttle Mermaid is a ride worth checking out at least once. After that Its not something that needs to be seen every time. This ride is also something you can now experiance in Florida as well as it recently opened at the Magic Kingdom as part of the Fantasyland Expansion. Its just too bad the DCA version didn't get the great Que that Magic Kingdoms got.






After finishing the Little Mermaid there was still another ride in Paradise Pier we wanted to ride. Well maybe I shouldn't say we. More like Kiera. This ride was one that was closed when we came in 2008 as it had already started its remodel for the new DCA. We walked all the way around the Lagoon to that ride that Kiera practically had to force me into line for. Mickeys Fun Wheel. I gotta say that I love how Paradise Pier looks at night.






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Old 01-10-2013, 11:05 PM   #30
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You may think whats to be scared of? Its just a Ferris Wheel. Well first of all i'm not particularly fond of Ferris Wheels in the first place. I have a large fear of heights and moving slowly around on Ferris wheel does not help calm that fear. The next fear though is the fact that the Fun Wheel has Swinging Gondilas on it. Yes there are stationary ones as well but Kiera wanted to do the swinging. The Swinging Gondilas are on a track so as the Ferris Wheel goes around in the circle the Gondilas will slide down the track making them swing. This is not a ride I EVER cared to go on. I couldn't belive I was gonna give it a try now.




The line was very short for the Fun wheel however the wait time was posted at 20 minutes. Although the line was short the Fun Wheel loads rediculously slow. But then again what Ferris Wheel doesn't. It loads 2 swinging and 1 stationary gondila at a time. Once all the Gondilas are loaded it will then make 1 full non stop rotation and then you unload. We soon loaded into the Gondila and I immidiatly started to panic and brace myself. I tried to keep calm and focus on using the views to take pictures. However I couldn't get myself to even move my hands from grasping the seat I was on. The first movement the Gondela started moving I started to panic more. And then it made its first big slide and Major Swing and the freak out really started. I don't know who was more freaked out. Me or Daniel. Oh and did I mention that the Gondelas have NO restraints what so ever. That did not help at all. Each Major swing I seemed to panic more and more. I was diffenitly having a larger panic attack about this ride then Daniel was who had the same look on his face as he did on Pirates x1000. However the fear was only in his eyes as he never cried or made a peep on the Fun wheel. Each Big swing Kiera was getting a kick out of my reaction. I hate this stupid ride. Finally though our ride came to an end and I couldn't get off of it quick enough. Seriously I don't care ever to ride this again. I have never, EVER been as scared on a ride in my whole life as I was on the stupid Death wheel. Avoid this ride. Don't go on it. I hated it. But then again this is coming from the guy who had a major panic attack on it lol. Kiera loves the ride and says dispite my freak out she thinks she could get me on it again. If only for her.





With the worst ride ever done and over with we were once again getting hungry and were ready for dinner. With the Pacific Warf dinning area a short walk away we decided to check that area out to see what dinning options were avalible for dinner. We left Paradise Pier behind until we would be returning for World of Color later in the evening.




And that concludes this update. Thanks to those reading along or looking at the pictures. If you have any questions please ask or share your comments. Part 3 should be up soon and will include World of Color and Cars Land after dark. Thanks again.
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