Tuesday, January 13, 2015

California Adventure


This past weekend and early week didn’t go quite as planned, but when does it? [wry grin] Recovering from vacation while being laid low with a nasty cold is proving difficult. The transition from gorgeous 75 degree sunshine to gray, wet days is tough, as well. That’s okay—we’ll adjust (and ignore the Christmas tree languishing on the front porch, seriously).

I chose not to carry my camera all four days in the interest of keeping things simple and being in the moment. I did haul it around on day 4, when we visited both parks the same day. These are a small selection from California Adventure.

Everything was still decorated for Christmas (I’m not sure why that surprised me), and the parks were certainly not as empty as we had hoped (a whole lotta kids were missing school!). But we still avoided the huge crowds that doubtless flooded the parks over the holidays.

Again, the weather was perfection.

CA 1 

All four of the kids loved the Frozen Sing-Along show in the theater. The Aladdin show (full sets, costuming, and songs with an abridged storyline) was incredible, as was the Mickey and the Magic Map show at Disneyland. I tried to remind myself that we were watching full shows that would be events all by themselves anywhere else! We managed to watch Mickey’s Soundsational Parade in Disneyland as well as the evening World of Color (music, lights, and water fountains) at Paradise Pier in California Adventure, but missed the other nighttime shows (because tired.).

CA 2 

Levi’s favorite ride of the trip was the Grizzly River Run raft ride. All three boys rode it many, many times. The single rider line was helpful when the ride was busy, but this ride was often empty in the earlier morning or evening times (because wet. and cold.). [Levi doesn’t really enjoy rollercoasters, but I was very proud of him this trip. He tried (and enjoyed) everything but California Screamin’ and the Hollywood Tower of Terror.]

CA 3Img2015-01-07_0054fpm 

Lola and I did not like it, however, because getting soaked by cold water did not appeal to us. So we sat it out after the first run which had Lola dripping wet and crying.

CA 4 

Lola was an amazing sport on every other ride. She loved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad rollercoaster, Gadget’s Go Coaster, and Radiator Springs Racers. She wasn’t tall enough for Indiana Jones or California Screamin’. I didn’t take her on the Hollywood Tower of Terror (more about that later). She didn’t go on the Matterhorn Bobsleds because we used the single rider line for that one, and she is too young to ride solo. She thought Space Mountain was scary because it was dark, but she didn’t cry and it didn’t make her apprehensive for any other ride. I wasn’t with her on Goofy’s Sky School rollercoaster, but Russ said he had to talk her through it. Of course, Russ thought he was going to die. All things considered, that unassuming ride may be the scariest at the Disneyland parks! But she rode everything with enthusiasm and seemed to understand the whole standing in line routine. For the most part, she was also a fantastic sport about all the waiting for the boys.


We spent a good chunk of time at Paradise Pier. Leif and Luke were my rollercoaster buddies. California Screamin’ was far and away our favorite ride. Leif was apprehensive the first time we tried it (as he always is with anything new). After that, he was game for the single rider line. I reminded him that he would be riding by himself, next to a stranger. He sweetly replied, “Then maybe I’ll have a chance to make a new friend.” And indeed he did! So the three of us went several times and even managed to talk Russ (not a rollercoaster guy) into riding once on the last day. He was surprised at how much he enjoyed it. In fact, he said he would rather ride California Screamin’ all day long than ever go on Goofy’s Sky School coaster again. Ha!

The last time Leif and I stood in the single rider line, we talked the whole time with a hilarious 12 year old boy from New Zealand. That kid made my day!

Russ rode the Ferris Wheel with Levi, Luke, and Lola and took some pictures from high above the park.


Above is the California Screamin’ loop. Below is the Radiator Springs Racers.


Then there was the Hollywood Tower of Terror, the elevator drop. (You can read about it here.)


I got out of riding this one last time because Luke wasn’t old enough, but I had to man up and go with him this visit. Leif said he wanted to go, almost chickened out, and then manned up as well. Leif and I are happy to say we rode it, and never do it again. I much prefer rollercoasters to drop rides. Luke, my thrill-seeker, says it is his favorite ride.

CA 7 

The Cars Land was so charming. We ended up eating at Flo’s Café on the last afternoon. It was our only full meal inside the parks (because $$$$.).

CA 5Img2015-01-07_0223fpmCA 6 

One thing about Disney parks, they are Masters of ambiance and story. The foliage, signage, smells (including a huge variety of theme-appropriate foods), lighting, hand rails, benches, cast member costuming, garbage cans—no detail is too small, and every little thing is intentional. It blows me away, and I wish I had days to walk around taking pictures. I’d love to do a collage of all the different light fixtures found around Disneyland.

In Bugs Land, the park benches are made out of used popsicle sticks and the lights are lightning bugs on candy suckers.


And the parks are super-duper clean.


I’ll post more pictures of Disneyland when I get a chance later this week.


Heather said...

I loved all these pictures. Your attention to detail is amazing too!

It looks like it was an amazing whirlwind trip.

Hope you are feeling better soon.

Windhover Farm said...

Okay! You may have convinced me. Looks like a blast.

Jill O. said...

We just went to Disneyland/California Adventure early in December and I completely agree about the cleanliness, attention to detail and ambiance! I thought California Adventure was so great, especially Cars Land at night with the Christmas decor.

Heidi said...

Thanks, Heather!

Windhover Farm~ It really is a blast. :)

Jill O.~ Were the parks busy earlier in December? I was surprised by how many people were there on the Monday back to school! I'm glad you enjoyed your visit.

Jill O. said...

Heidi -

I think we lucked out because the days we went to the parks (December 9 and December 12), the crowds were not bad. Line wait times were usually 5-30 minutes. Cars was the exception, of course! My cousins went the day after Christmas and said they literally felt like sardines trying to even walk through the park (eventually Disneyland staff closed the gates because the parks reached maximum capacity on that day).

I love that so many websites provide crowd estimates and recommendations for times of year to go - these have definitely helped us plan when we go. My husband used the "Disneyland Wait Times" app while we were in the park to see continuously updated ride wait times.

Also, we saw more than one group using the "Heads Up" app to pass the time in line - so we started using that and it was a really fun family activity and definitely made the time go by quickly!

I'm impressed at how many days you went to the parks! I love to go, but am definitely exhausted after a full day there!