Sunday, July 21, 2013

California Adventure

After an exhausting yet fun day at Disneyland, we were ready to do it all over again. Today we were headed to California Adventure! When the alarm on my phone went off at 6:30 am, however, I was relishing the fact that my family was still peacefully asleep and allowed myself to reset it for one hour later. We all were thankful for that extra hour of sleep and were eager to get up and get ready and out the door. We ate a quick breakfast in the concierge lounge again and by this time of morning it was bustling.

There was virtually no line when we arrived at the front gate, so maybe the extra hour of sleep worked in our favor after all! Beyond the front gates lies Buena Vista Street, the “Main Street” of California Adventure. It was recreated in the typical Disney-esque way to the way Walt Disney would have experienced Los Angeles in the 1920s. Consulting our Touring Plan for California Adventure, our first course of action was to obtain our fastpasses for the Radiator Springs Racers. When we came across the fastpass line, we saw it winding through the turnstiles and opted to skip ahead a little in the Touring Plan and come back to it later. We headed to Carsland first and instantly felt as though we been transplanted directly into the Cars movie. It was so well done and fun to just look around and see all the details.

Carsland

We first rode Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, which was surprisingly more fun that it looked. On the other hand, none of us really enjoyed Luigi’s Flying Tires which were supposed to make you feel as if you were….well, flying on tires. There was a “lean” none of us could figure out during the duration of the ride.

Riding Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Flying Tires

Soon we were ready for a snack so we headed to the Cozy Cones. During my extensive research on food for this trip I became aware of Red’s Apple Freeze and was curious enough to add this to our list of food to try. I read the ingredients on each of the items that is used to create this concoction and am happy to report it is was safe for my kids (free of eggs, nuts, and dairy)! My kids hmmmed and hawed over it for a while. S, our 12-year-old daughter, decided she did like it while the younger two were not fans. I suppose you should have a hankering for frozen apple to thoroughly enjoy it, but in my opinion it was very good.

Carsland Cozy Cones

After our snack break, we headed to Paradise Pier which is made to look like an old-fashioned American boardwalk, complete with Midway Games. Once again, done very well in typical Disney fashion, it was so crisply clean which contrasted beautifully with the bright colors of the signage. My husband, S, and 9-year-old B rode the “epic coaster” California Screamin’. They gave it two (well three!) thumbs up as one of their favorite rides as they ended up riding it a couple more times throughout the day. My kids were enthralled with the Midway Games so we decided to indulge them for a bit. You do have to pay extra, which you do by adding money onto plastic cards and swiping the cards to play the games. It was great fun versing anyone who came up along side of you to vie for the prize. Our 6-year-old, Miss A, ended up winning the prize after the first game! If four or more players were playing together a bigger prize was given out. If it was just between two people, smaller prizes were it. By the end of it all each of the kids ended up with one big prize (a stuffed Dumbo, Goofy, and Woody accompanied us throughout our day) as well as many smaller stuffed animals. The smaller ones were of a much higher quality than typical carnival prizes so I didn’t mind the sudden implosion of stuffed creatures as much.

View of Paradise Pier

Miss A even convinced us to let her get her face painted. At $12 I thought it was a steal of a deal for Disney!


We continued on following a bit of the touring plan here and there and implementing our own stops as we liked. I suppose my overall opinion of the Touring Plans is that they work wonderfully if you have the energy and desire to get up early on your vacation. You will definitely hit all the top rides and can spend the rest of the day going back to your favorites or trying new ones you may not have added to the plan initially. It was also nice, however, to deviate from it here and there on this day and stop off at places that caught our eye along the way. Onward to Pacific Wharf which had the purposeful feel of San Francisco, where we had vacationed the year before. The smell of sourdough bread from Boudin Bakery wafted through the air and all of us marveled at how it felt like we had suddenly been transported back to the city by the Bay.

Grizzly Peak was done to feel like you were at one of the US National Parks. The kids enjoyed taking turns ziplining and all of us enjoyed doing the treasure hunt together, similar to the quest for getting a Junior Ranger badge from the real National Parks. We all had fun traipsing through the park area, going across rope bridges, and catching eagle eye views from the top. It was a nice detour from the rides in the afternoon.

Grizzly Peak

From Grizzly Peak we entered Condor Flats, which contained our favorite ride as a family, Soarin’ Over California. You sit in rows similar to airplane seats, complete with seatbelts and the overhead. You are soon lifted up and forward toward a bubble-shaped screen that begins with making you feel like you are soaring over the vast different areas of California. It’s one of those rides that can be enjoyed by young children and the elderly. We ended up going on this a total of three times!

Condor Flats

We did make our way back to the fastpass lane to get the coveted Radiator Springs Racers fastpasses. Our return time was in the early evening, which gave us plenty of time to get to our dinner. We had reservations at Wine Country Trattoria, which I had made for two reasons: One was to receive the fastpass for World of Color, which is a colorful light and water show set in the dark in front of Paradise Pier . The second reason was that it was one of the recommended restaurants by the chef I had contacted prior to our trip as allergy-friendly. The setting definitely had a Mediterranean feel to it. We were seated inside and received our prix-fixe menu shortly thereafter. The kids were happy with simple pasta and marinara sauce with grapes as part of their appetizer. My husband and I enjoyed our meal: the salad was fresh, the main course tasty, but most of all we had been looking forward to the array of desserts that we had been promised on the menu. However, after the chef had verified that the allergy dessert she had on hand for the kids had the dreaded label of “may contain…..” she asked our opinion and we opted to play it safe as we always do and avoid it. My husband and I didn’t want to consume our own delectable desserts in front of the kids so we all opted to skip it. They kindly knocked the bill down a little bit due to the dessert fiasco, which was greatly appreciated. They also were thoughtful enough to come back and chat with us and ask what ideas I may have on desserts they could carry in the future. My suggestions were cookies by Enjoy Life and Rice Dream or So Delicious ice cream. Hopefully future guests will get to enjoy one of those. I am thankful that our kids take it so well, though—we offered to get them another fruity lollipop adorned with various Disney characters which were located in nearly every store, to which they were thrilled.

Once dinner was over, it was our time to use the fastpasses for Radiator Springs. We still ended up in line for about 30 minutes, however we were still racing past those poor folks in the regular queue! I have to say this ride is worth any wait. It was definitely a favorite!

Afterwards, it was time to get to ready to watch the World of Color show. My husband and I grabbed a coffee and cookie for ourselves from a vendor across from where we entered the World of Color queue. I have to say the cost for the WOC Dining package was most worth it once we saw exactly where our specific viewing area was. My kids begged to sit in what was clearly labeled as “Wet Zone” which we figured would give us the best view anyway . We were literally right up against the guardrail which ended up being an amazing view for the show. The “wet” was truly just a continuous mist that, yes, made us quite wet by the end of the show. But it was definitely worth it!

Just before World of Color

Once the show was over we had time for one last ride and that is when we rode the Soarin’ Over California ride for the third and final time. After that we walked our mile back to the hotel and crashed for the night!
Two days of theme park fun were behind us. Up next: Laguna Beach!

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