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My First Visit to Disneyland (Part 2)

My First Visit to Disneyland (Part 2)

I'm an avid Disney fan, so it won't really surprise anyone to know that I've been to Walt Disney World numerous times, but some are surprised when I tell them that I've never been to Disneyland.  That changed this month as I made my first visit.  It was an interesting experience to say the least and as you will see, some things were great, some were not so great. If you missed part one of my trip, you can find that here.

Day two of my Disneyland trip started early Friday morning with a quick walk over from my Ho Jo room to the front gates of Disney California Adventure.  At first glance, you would think that you had arrived at Disney Hollywood Studios over in Florida.  The main gates of these two parks are very similar but once you get through the gates it's very different.

 We headed on in and we were held up, for the rope drop, at Carthay Circle.  This is a great looking area with a lot of things to take in as you wait for the mad dash to Cars Land.  As soon as the castmembers dropped the rope, people either ran to Radiator Springs Racers or jumped into the Fast Pass line for this ride.


 The Fast Pass line swelled so quickly for this ride that we decided to just truck over to the Radiator Springs Racer line and take our chances.  It paid off with a 20 minute wait.  It would have taken at least that long to get our Fast Passes. 

Walking through Cars Land is just amazing.  There is no other way to put it, and words won't really do it justice.  The Imagineers really flexed their muscle on this area, as it looks like an exact replica of Radiator Springs from the Cars movie.  It is nothing short of amazing and I really hope something like this is brought to the Disney World property.

After the short wait for the much anticipated ride, we were on, and it was fantastic.  The beginning of the ride is really nice, and showcases the great work and attention to detail to the Radiator Springs mountain range.


After that, the ride goes to another level.  the dark ride part of Radiator Springs Racers is THE pinnacle of "animatronics".  The movements of the cars and the facial expressions are just unreal and lives up to the expectation that the Cars Land area sets.  Take a ride with us below.


After that ride, we did it again. The single rider line is a quick way to get on Radiator Springs Racers without the long wait in line or for Fast Passes.  We ended up riding it three times with very minimal waits. 

After that fun we walked around the Cars Land area and enjoyed some sights and even the Mater ride.  We then headed over the Pacific Wharf and took in that area.  We dropped in on the Little Mermaid ride, which is exactly like the one at the Magic Kingdom, and watched a short little show that was being put on by the green army men from toy Story.

The Paradise Pier area of the DCA park is beautiful and it has plenty of eateries, shops and enough fun rides to keep you entertained for a while.  We spent plenty of time just strolling around this area, and it kind of bit us in the end.  We did not get a Fast Pass for California Screamin' and that led to us to say "oh well, we will hit it later tonight when the lines are low". 

We were able to ride Toy Story Mania, which is exactly like the version at Hollywood Studios, and we also tried the Goofy Test Flight ride, which is a wild mouse coaster.  My wife hates these types of coasters, but i kind of like how compact they are.  It's a fun ride, but a little rough.

We stopped in at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta for some lunch and were pleasantly surprised.  For starters, this area of the park is beautiful and a great place to relax while you eat lunch.  They have a nice band that plays in the gazebo and there is plenty of seating.  We opted for the pasta, but you can also get pizza or salad.  We received a very nice portion of pasta that was freshly made and served on dinner plates.   The food was really good and only $9.95. This was the first, but not the last time that the Disneyland quick service would put WDW quick service to shame.



We headed over to Grizzly River Run and there was a pretty hefty wait, so we decided to get Fast Passes.  While we were over there, you could also get Fast Passes for the World of Color show.  I've never heard of getting Fast Passes for a nighttime show, but ok, I grabbed two of them and we headed on our way.

We looked at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, and although it looked very well done, it was for kids and we just settled for a quick walk through.  We then meandered over to Condor Flats, which might as well be called "the place we stuck Soarin".  It's literally just Soarin' and a gift shop, which is fine, but it seems a little weird to make an entire new "land" for one ride.  I'm not complaining though, as I got to see my favorite ride and Mr. David Putty.  "Yeah, that's right".


I wasn't about to wait 60 minutes to ride Soarin', since it's exactly the same as the version in Epcot, but single rider lines are your best friend in Disneyland and if you can do them without loosing a child or spouse, I'd say go for it.  Five minutes in line and seven minutes of Soarin and we were back in the Land Pavilion... oh wait.  Talk about a culture shock.  Guess I'll just check out that Condor Flats gift shop.

 We were deposited back into Carthay Circle and were going to head over to Hollywood Land but i was dragging a little.  Good thing there was a Starbucks right there.  I'm still not sure if I like Starbucks being all over the Disney parks, but for that moment, I was not going to complain.

Hollywood Land is pretty neat and it almost feels like you are in Hollywood Studios... kind of.  The facades and streets looks very similar but everything is different.  This one street has a bunch of hidden gems on it.

So, everyone knows about the Tower of Terror as it looms over the end of the street, but all in between that and the entrance of Hollywood land lies some nice little attractions that some people have likely never heard of.

The Monster's Inc. ride is a ride that I have heard of before, but never did too much investigating into.  It's a really nice little dark ride with some really great scenes from the original Monster's Inc. movie.  The characters are life-sized and look realistic.  Most kids and even big kids should check this out as it's really well done.  My favorite part was the Harryhausen scene. 


We then jumped over to the Aladdin theater show as it was almost showtime and we were looking to waste some time while waiting for our Fast Passes to Grizzly River Run.  I was kind of expecting this to be like a small "Voyage of the Little Mermaid" show, but when we entered the theater, I realized that this was on a much bigger scale.

The theater is huge and very impressive.  We took our seats and the show began.  The cast was great and the show had some hilarious moments, brought to  us by the Genie.  The humor was topical, new, kid friendly and very entertaining.  During the show, the cast runs in and out of the aisles and even fly over the crowd on the magic carpet.  I'm not sure if it's because my expectations were so low, but this show was a highlight of our day and is really one of my favorite Disney park shows.  Yes, better than Beauty and the Beast show and maybe on par with or a little better than the Lion King show.  A definite hidden gem in the California Adventure park.


While there was more to do in Hollywood Land, it would have to wait, as we had a date with a lot of water and soaked clothing.  Grizzly River Run Fast Passes made this a snap, as we basically walked onto the ride.  We strapped in and I tried to hide my DSLR, iPhone and GoPro from the impending deluge of water that I knew was coming.  There are no little waterproof bunkers for your goodies to hide on this ride, so be aware of that before you tote your $1500 worth of electronics on with you.

We were paired up with a cute little family who had two boys who appeared to be first timers.  They were so excited to be on the ride... at least one of them. The other one was not too fond of the soaking that he got, but I hear ya bro, being wet is no fun when you don't have the Florida sun to dry you off.  Luckily the Cali sun would do almost as good.  We were totally drenched on this ride.  Not Kali River Rapids drenched, more like my friend pushed me into the pool fully clothed drenched.  Bigger drops, longer ride and powerful rapids set this one apart from it's counterpart in Animal Kingdom. Good thing I wore my white shorts... yes mam, those are Mickey Mouse boxers.


I feel like this trip report is going on forever, but there is really so much to do in this park that it is pretty amazing. Both Disneyland Resort parks a packed with great entertainment and fun attractions.

We headed off to the Bugs Land to check in on Flik and see what this was all about.  This area of the park is mainly geared towards kids, but there is the ever popular "It's Tough to be  a Bug" ride that was a walk-on, so we took the opportunity to visit an old friend.  It's exactly like the Animal Kingdom version except there is not the massive tree that you are inside of.  It does have a cute little entrance though, as you get to see the tree from the movie that Flik and his friends lived in.


It was getting a little late and it was time to track down some dinner, so we decided to head back to the Pacific Wharf area, as we had seen some good food choices earlier on.  As we made our way over, we were able to catch the DCA daytime parade.  It looked really fun but if you are sitting close to the floats, you may get soaked, as they spray you with water guns an cannons.

We took a shortcut through Cars Land and decided to eat at the Lucky Fortune Cookery.  It's similar to the Yak n Yeti quick service, but you get to choose your meat, starch and which sauce you would like on it.  I went with the Korean BBQ beef over rice and it was pretty tasty.  I liked that you had the option to make the dish however you wanted. 

After we finished our dinner, we headed back to Hollywood Land to follow up on some of the things that we did not complete.  When we headed over, it was a wild scene.  People were dressed up in costumes and were in full party mode.  Loud dance music blared and skylights were lighting up the area.  We had apparently stumbled upon the Mad Tea Party.  The area at the end of Hollywood Blvd was packed with teens and early twenty year olds partying like it was New Years Eve and all to the sounds of a DJ who was dressed up as the white rabbit.  As much as I would have liked to, I did not follow him down the rabbit hole. 

Instead, we headed over to the Sorcerer's Workshop, not yet sponsored by Sorcerer Radio, but we can dream.  There was plenty to do in here and some really neat items in Beast's Library.  There were plenty of interactive toys and trinkets that we were able to test out. 

We then found our way to the Animation Academy.  I didn't really know what this was, but there was a line and we got in it.  I'm pretty sure this is the exact same logic that killed the dodo bird, but ok. The Animation Academy was a lot of fun and we were able to catch an extended preview of Big Hero, which looks awesome, as well as draw Pooh.

It was getting close to World of Color time, so we headed back to Pacific Wharf to indulge in some Ghirardelli's. After that, I grabbed a beer from the little craft beer cart and we headed over to our "Fast Pass".  Now, I'm not so sure what is great about this World of Color Fast Pass because we were herded into the biggest line that I've seen in my life.  The line began at the gazebo at the beginning of Paradise Pier and wrapped all the way around to the California Screamin' entrance.  And this wasn't a single file line, as we were 5 to six deep.

We eventually were wrangled into our viewing pen before the show and had a seat.  We were in the center of the show, but had some taller people in front of us which was not a realy problem for me, but my wife was not able to see the laser things that happened at water level.

The World of Color was an emotion filled spectacle that I really enjoyed.  The water screens were vivid and the images were amazing.  I really hope this technology makes it's way to Disney World and I could definitely see it playing a part in the new Animal Kingdom show.  At some points in the show, the water was bursting well over the height of Mickey's Fun Wheel.  The movie scenes and music were perfect and the interaction with the scenes and the surrounding visual elements make this a must see.

After the show, our day was done.  We were pretty whipped and we had a full day of Disneyland coming up, so we headed back to the HoJo for some rest.  Stay tuned for the final entry in my trip report.  Also, you can catch me Halloween morning on the WDW Tiki Room show (on Sorcerer Radio)  at 8am (eastern) as I talk with Aljon about my trip.

If you missed part one of my trip, you can find that here.

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