one day at DCA

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by miksicnarf, Apr 19, 2001.

  1. miksicnarf

    miksicnarf Mouseketeer

    May 5, 2000
    Cast: Me, 43 YO mom; Michael, 49 YO dad; kids--Mikey, 14; Andrew, 12; and Alex(andra), 11.
    Background: We're Disney fans but not fanatics. We live in Venice, CA, less than an hour from DL but usually visit only once per year. We visited WDW for the first time 4 or 5 years ago and bought into DVC--since then, we've been vacationing at OKW every year and we're doing the cruise for the first time this summer. Kids are off school this week so we decided to check out DCA yesterday. I call us "the slug family" because we're total non-planners, late sleepers, laid-back, go with the flow kinda folks.
    Michael had to stop in at his office, so he decided to meet us there later. The kids and I left the house around 10:30, arrived at DLR by 11:30. The ticket lines were loooong and slow-moving :( We were a little disappointed to see that the Sun Wheel was posted as not operating. Finally made our way to the DCA turnstiles, but not before stopping to take a few photos of the kids with the giant CALIFORNIA letters. I'm a photography buff, the kids say I suck the fun out of everything with my camera...I do try to restrain myself, which is easy to do because they're so uncooperative :) At the turnstiles, practically every other guest seemed to be dazed and confused as to where they were going...many thought they were going into DL, and didn't understand that if they had the normal 1 day, 1 park ticket and used it to enter DCA, they couldn't go to DL as well. Since we've discovered WDW, I found that many local folks here just don't get the multi-park, resort concept--I'm always having to explain why on earth we'd want to go all the way to FL when we have DL right here.
    Finally in the park (didn't notice any smell), we headed for the lockers to stow our sweatshirts and jackets. It was cool, around the high 60's, low 70's at midday, with a breeze, but with the sun out we didn't need our outerwear yet. From there we went to Soarin' Over CA to get fastpasses--I was a little surprised that Andrew agreed to ride as he's not much of a rider and definitely doesn't go for anything too thrilling. Our ride time was 7:05-8:05 p.m. I always try to accomodate Andrew's preferences since there's so little he likes to do, and he wanted to do Muppet Vision 3D so we headed into Hollywood next.
    The show was cute, just like at WDW, and it was a virtual walk-in. Superstar Limo was another short wait...cute ride, and I especially enjoyed the announcements coming over the PA. The queue is themed as an airport baggage claim area.
    Next Mikey wanted to head to Paradise Pier. On the way out of Hollywood, I took note of the showtimes for Steps in Time at the Hyperion Theater--the description on the map sounded good and particularly applicable to my gang: "A fairy Godmother with an attitude teaches a young teen that you're never too old to dream. A dynamic ensemble of dancers and high-energy Disney songs help our hero learn the joy of family and the power of imagination."
    On our way to PP, we walked through the Golden State and decided to do It's Tough to be a Bug which was another walk-in. I think this show is a little different from the one at WDW, but I can't put my finger on exactly what's changed. The "sting" in the back seemed a bit more vigorous, for one thing!
    It was 1:30 when we exited ITtbaB, and the kids agreed to humor me and head back to Hollywood for the 1:45 Steps in Time show. The Hyperion Theater is huge. We sat up in the balcony and although we were far from the stage, our view was excellent. I don't think there's a bad seat in the house. I loved the show! Cute theme, full-scale song & dance production with a great mix of jazzed-up numbers from a variety of Disney movies including Lion King and Little Mermaid. I think the kids liked it too, although they're too cool to admit it :)
    We finally made our way to PP, where Mikey, Alex and I rode the Orange Stinger. Very short wait, and we all gave it a thumbs-up. We were happy to see that the Sun Wheel was running. By this time Michael was on his way and we were all hungry so we agreed by phone to meet at ESPN, which is a favorite of the kids' at WDW. We exited DCA and walked all the way through Downtown Disney, since ESPN is located at the far end. I'm very impressed with DD! The high-end shops and restaurants remind me of Caesar's Forum Shops in Las Vegas. It's definitely a place I'd like to visit just to shop and eat :)
    Michael arrived right after we were seated at ESPN. He'd had some parking difficulties, something about a wrong turn, and ended up valet parking right outside ESPN. (I'd wisely checked into the parking situation online before we left the house and knew that I wanted to park in the Timon lot off of Harbor Blvd.) Mikey and Alex both got the chicken caesar sandwich, Andrew got the chicken tenders appetizer with a side of fries, Michael got some kind of tortilla chip appetizer with spinach dip, and I got a cheesesteak sandwich & fries. The chicken tenders were a little spicy for Andrew, and my cheesesteak had ground beef on it but we were really hungry so it was all good.
    On the way back to DCA, Michael was also impressed with our CA version of DD. I don't think it'll be hard to talk him into coming back :) There was no line at the ticket booths coming out of DD at this time of day (I guess it was around 3 p.m.), and Michael bought his ticket for DCA. Surprisingly, he wanted to ride Soarin' too--he's even less of a rider than Andrew, but there were no more fastpasses being issued. His immediate reaction to the park was also positive. We saw lots of folks skipping, dancing, and singing along to the great CA classic songs being broadcast--you can't help it, and it sets a great mood.
    We strolled back to PP where Mikey, Alex and I lined up for the Sun Wheel. Looong wait, at least an hour, and although the ride is enjoyable IMHO it's not worth that wait. The looping gondolas are deceiving--they don't go as high as the stationary ones, and you really only get to loop and swing a few times. We were seated with a couple, and during our swings the woman came very close to losing her lunch; also, it was cold up there and I was the only one with my sweatshirt on so I felt compelled to be a good Mom and gave it to Alex. These factors detracted a little from the experience for me.
    While we were on the SW, Michael and Andrew cruised around the pier, where Andrew decided he HAD to have a huge stuffed cow which was a prize at the toss-a-softball-into-the-milkcan game. He tried a few times, no luck. As you probably know, the opening in the cans is just barely wide enough for the ball, making it nearly impossible to sink one. Alex tried and was pretty far off, although to be fair she does have a sprained pinky finger on her throwing hand :) Then Mikey stepped up to the counter...first toss (you get 2 for $2, 1 in wins) hit the top and bounced off. Now that he had the feel for it, his second ball went straight to the hole, rattled into position and dropped right in! Woohoo! We whooped and hollered and cheered and clapped, along with the rest of the gathered spectators. It was a truly great moment :) Of course Andrew was thrilled, but on the downside we now had this gigantic (round body, about 4' in diameter) cow to tote around. We headed toward the front of the park to see if we could stow it somewhere or if necessary, take it to the car. Alex and I rode the carousel along the way, and in yet another shocking developement, Michael got a FP for CA Screamin' along with Alex and I. He NEVER rides anything fast! Middle-aged crisis, perhaps?
    Back in the Gateway area, everyone got their jackets/sweatshirts out of the locker and I went to Guest Relations to ask about checking the cow. Courtney, the CM at GR, said I should go nextdoor to the Greetings from CA shop and ask to have the cow sent to Package Express, where we could pick it up at the end of the day right outside the exit. So I headed over to Greetings and relayed this to the CM there; she said Package Express is closed (it was maybe somewhere around 5 p.m.), and then double-checked with another CM who confirmed that PE was indeed closed. I went back to Courtney to ask (OK, beg) if she could stow the cow, 'cause we really didn't want to have to trek/tram our way back and forth to either of our cars. Courtney was surprised to hear that I'd been told PE was closed. She called PE and confirmed that they would be open until park closing at midnight; she then accompanied us back to Greetings and asked me to point out the CM who'd misinformed us. I did so, and also explained that the CM had checked with another CM before passing on the wrong info. Courtney set the gal straight, and the Greetings CM then proceeded to have me fill out a claim check for the cow. As I did so, she said, "You know you won't get it until tomorrow." "Oh no," said Courtney, "they'll get it today before they leave the park!" I will be sending a note of praise for Courtney :) The Greetings CM stuttered and stumbled and made all kinds of excuses...I felt sorry for her...she obviously hadn't been briefed on the logistics of PE. Andrew was worried that he'd never see his beloved cow again, but I reassured him that Mickey wouldn't let him down...although secretly I had my doubts too.
    Michael hadn't seen the Hollywood section yet, so we walked through there and rode SS Limo again. Then it was finally time to Soar! Michael didn't have a FP, so he was going to go in the single rider line. When we approached the FP entrance, the CM was on the phone and obviously distracted. Michael tried to ask her where the single-rider line was, but she just waved him through with us. Good luck, and we laughed and teased Michael about cheating! Soarin' is awesome, just awesome. It's replaced Indiana Jones as my favorite all-time ride. Even Andrew, who was apprehensive at first, loved it. Do not miss this ride!
    After SOC we strolled around in the direction of PP. I'm a small-time pin collector (in addition to pressed coins, of which I got a few at DCA) so we stopped at a pin cart to look for a good DCA specimen. I like pins with the year on them, and was lucky to find a pretty, flowerful DCA pin that not only had 2001 but also "Spring" on it :) Mikey, Alex and I rode Orange Stinger again--this time I got an outside swing; first time I had an inside one, and the view was better from the inside swing. The outside swing seemed to stay more behind the solid orange peel sections of the enclosure, whereas the inside seat lined up with the open, "peeled" area. Don't know if that's always the case, but that was my experience.
    We were going to try Mulholland Madness if the wait wasn't too long or we could get FPs, but it was temporarily shut down so we headed to CA Screamin' as it was now time for our FP return. Mikey and Andrew weren't riding, and Alex and I again marvelled at the fact that Michael was gonna do this. In fact I marvelled a little that *I* was gonna do this--I'm not a big coaster fan but I felt I had to try it once. No sooner had we started out than I thought, "what the H-E-double hockey sticks was I thinking." But it was great! Smooth ride, and good back and neck support which is a concern of mine. Alex and I screamed ourselves hoarse but we loved it. Michael said it was "different." :)
    When we got off the ride we couldn't find Mikey and Andrew. We have Talkabouts, but no one ever wants to be bothered carrying them :( Alex and I hung around the coaster exit while Michael went to search the carnival games area. Finally I was convinced the boys weren't anywhere in our area so we also headed toward the games, and saw them race by us. They'd been on the carousel, and saw Michael walk by and were running to find him.
    We all reunited and agreed we were played out and ready to head for home. Mulholland Madness had reopened, but the wait was an hour so we passed. We enjoyed our final, leisurely walk out of the park, and again we all agreed DCA is a winner.
    After exiting, we went to Package Express to reclaim the cow. There was one harried gal working alone there, and when we gave her our receipt she checked and said there was no sign of a cow at PE. Another family was waiting there, and their package was also MIA. The PE CM explained good-naturedly that everyone had called in sick and she was far over her head. We told her that we'd left our cow at Greetings, which is just a few steps away, hours ago and she said she'd try to track it down. Michael and Mikey decided to start the hike back to Michael's car, which was parked near ESPN at the far end of DD, leaving me, Alex, and the increasingly distressed Andrew to await the fate of the sacred cow. Finally, the cow materialized and the three of us happily skipped (ok, dragged) off to the Lion King tram and back to the Timon parking lot.
    It was 9:30 as we began to drive out of the lot when we heard a loud BOOM--the fireworks at DL had started. We pulled back into a parking space and had a great view of the Andrew said, it was the perfect ending :)


    [This message was edited by miksicnarf on 04-19-01 at 02:22 PM.]
  2. BetsyAnn

    BetsyAnn Mouseketeer

    May 18, 2000
    Thanks for posting your report. It seemed like a pretty good day!

    :) BAS
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  4. JenniferWooster

    JenniferWooster Mouseketeer

    Mar 4, 2001
    It sounded like you were very reasonable with your photo taking. My hubby is also a photo fantatic and I figure it will take us a while to just get through the park since it's all new to us and he wants pics : )

    You mentioned a few things we didn't know about DCA. We haven't read much about it and the show sounds good.

  5. Tartan Tigger

    Tartan Tigger <font color=purple>I fixed my PC MYSELF!!!!!!!!<br

    Oct 30, 2000
    Thanks for your report,it sounded really good.I`m going in July.

    <marquee><font color=blue>Tartan Tigger saying Hi from Scotland!</font></marquee>[​IMG]

    June 97:ASMusic
    June 98:ASMusic
    June 99:ASMovies
    June 00:ASMovies
    July 01:DL/DCA
  6. minniecarousel

    minniecarousel Chris Isaak fan

    Jul 13, 2000
    Thanks for posting. I'm going next week - I'm starting to get excited!

    <img src="" width=114 height=87 border=0>
  7. JennSaint

    JennSaint DIS Veteran

    Sep 18, 2000
    Really enjoyed your report! We leave in 2 weeks and can't wait!!
    Thanks for sharing! :)

    WDW~CBR 11/29-12/5 2000
    Disneyland May 2001 !!
  8. Marla Hellwig

    Marla Hellwig I'm not lost, it's called creative exploring

    Mar 25, 2000
    Good news about the cow. Thanks for posting!

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