Grad-Trip of a Lifetime...I finally made it to Walt's Park!

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by ParksPixar&Pizza, May 29, 2017.

  1. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Hello everyone!

    This is my first trip report, as I am relatively new to the boards and recently re-inspired by Disney! I have been to WDW 3 times (ages 5, 9, 20). I am 22 years old. Between ages 9-20, I never really thought about the parks (still loved Disney in general), but that trip when I was 20 really ignited the flame inside me again. After the last trip, all I could think about was another Disney trip. I started watching/listening to the DIS Unplugged and their constant talking about how every WDW fan needs to go to Disneyland at least once made me obsessed. My family initially did not understand the appeal of Disneyland (smaller Magic Kingdom: why would we go when we’ve been to a larger Magic Kingdom/stuff probably everyone thinks about a trip to Disneyland after going to WDW multiple times). I have always wanted to go and see Walt’s Park, but now I HAD to go or I’d go insane. I would be graduating from college May 2017, so we wanted to plan a trip somewhere new. We haven’t been on a plane since that trip when I was 5 because we just drive everywhere along the east coast. I have a friend in San Diego, so I initially said we should go there. I then said “Oh, we could go to Disneyland too!” Long story short, I convinced them to take half the San Diego trip and split it into 50% Disneyland, 50% San Diego (SUCCESS!). We would be flying into San Diego on Mother’s Day (5/14), then driving to Disneyland, spending that Monday (5/15) at California Adventure and Tuesday (5/16) at Disneyland Park and driving back to San Diego on 5/17 for the remaining of our trip. I would’ve have liked to stay 1-2 more days in Disneyland, but there were grad nights and I took what I could get! I will get into our hotel choice, trip hopes and plans and obviously, the events! Also, we did get PhotoPass (as we have no family pictures) and we did use the DAS sytem, as I have some limitations, so I will be able to tell you about our amazing experience with DL’s DAS and to hopefully answer some questions about the differences between WDW’s DAS and DL’s.

    Besides me, my mom, dad and sister were coming along. Additionally, my friend would be coming with us on our Disneyland day. My mom absolutely loves Disney/the parks but was nervous based on some recent reviews of Disneyland that said it’s been horribly crowded and constant ride breakdowns ruined days for many. Both my mom and dad grew up going to Disney World and have been countless times, my sister has been 1 more time than me. My dad just wanted to go with the flow, as did my sister.

    For hotel, I really wanted to stay on property, despite the notion that you do not really need to stay on property at the DLR. After listening to the podcasts, I really wanted to stay at the Disneyland Hotel. They really convinced me! I love Disney history and the rooms looked so nice, so we ultimately booked there. I was so excited. With discounts, we splurged for the premium view, which somehow cheaper than the deluxe view (I could be getting them mixed up, sort of forget).

    Coming in, I wanted to explore the parks, EAT and obviously ride the attractions. I wanted to get the famous corndog, Matterhorn Macaroon, get MULTIPLE Dole Whips, the raspberry Mickey Macaron from Jolly Holiday, the biscuits and duck wings at Carthay Circle, the Monte Cristo and Pommes Frites at Café Orleans, beignets from either Café Orleans or Ralph Brennan’s, the Lobster Nachos at Cove Bar, the 24-layer cake at Steakhouse 55, a churro, a Mickey Waffle and the long beans/drinks at Trader Sam’s. Jeez, writing it all out makes me think all I wanted to do was eat LOL. Funny enough, there weren’t many things on that list we didn’t have too!

    Ride/attraction wise in DCA, I absolutely needed to do Radiator Springs Racers, Soarin’, Toy Story Midway Mania, California Screamin’ and to see World of Color. I also wanted to do Little Mermaid/Monsters Inc. and possibly the other two rides in Cars Land. I was sad that Guardians of the Galaxy wouldn’t be ready, but what are you going to do. Guess I must come back! In Disneyland, the list was a little longer (obviously):

    · Fantasyland: Peter Pan, Alice, Snow White, Mr. Toad, Pinocchio, Matterhorn, Small World, Canal Boats, Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough

    · Tomorrowland: Hyperspace Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, Star Tours

    · Frontierland: Big Thunder, Splash Mountain, Winnie the Pooh

    · Adventureland: Jungle Cruise, Echanted Tiki Room, (I was CRUSHED to know that Indiana Jones would be under refurb while we were there)

    · New Orleans Square: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean

    I also wanted to see the Electrical Parade one last time. I have fond memories of seeing it in Disney World and it would be nice to see it one last time; however, I didn’t want to wait hours for it. So, if I could catch some of it…great.

    Before I dive in to the events, I probably will briefly discuss the San Diego part of the trip (but not to the extent of Disneyland) and I would like to say how I exactly planned for this trip. I religiously listened and watched every episode of the DIS Unplugged (Shoutout to the Disneyland Team and the 7in7 episodes/Celebration of Disneyland series from the Orlando Team). I also bought the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2017 and I ordered the planning DVD (didn’t really help with planning, but cool to see the sites). I of course read the boards and all the tips people gave on here that were all so helpful. One of my favorite things for me was YouTube. I religiously watched Fresh Baked and Stuff, which really allowed me to see the park and visualize where everything was. Also, I got many really good tips and tricks. Could not suggest that channel anymore because the whole cast is truly incredible. I also watched The TimTracker’s videos of when him and his wife Jenn went to Disneyland. I watched videos of park walkthroughs, which really helped me plan the days. Basically, YouTube is your best friend.

    Ok, so here we go with night 1!
     
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  2. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Night 1:
    *Warning*- for some reason, on this day I didn't take too many pictures, so I apologize! A lot of what I am talking about you can probably easily find, but I have many more pictures of our park days!

    So, we flew out of Philadelphia on the 8am direct flight to San Diego. No issues at all. Flight went very smoothly. We landed a little before 11am Disneyland time ;) and got our rental car. Then, as mandated by my friend and every Californian, we headed straight for In-n-Out. For years, I have heard of the legendary burgers and fries served animal style and I always salivated. I was so hungry at this point, having been up since 2:00 am Disney World time, that you could’ve given me a sock animal style and I would have been fine with it. I got a double-double animal style and animal style fries and WOW was it good. I was surprised to realize that it tasted like a Wendy’s burger but A LOT fresher and the animal style absolutely made it. I’d 100% go back. I have dreams about the animal fries...

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    Ok so after In-n-Out, we drove to Disneyland and WOW was I excited. It took a little longer than Google Maps said (California traffic is the real deal LOL) but we left In-n-Out by I believe 12:45-1 and got to the Disneyland Hotel by about 3:30. The excitement was unreal at this point. We got out of our car and walked to the lobby, Disney music in the background, and I immediately saw the ginormous vintage, animated map of Disneyland that I have seen so many pictures of. It is so much cooler in person.

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    We made it!!!!

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    We went to check in, with the check in desk to the left, and waited a little as it was crowded, which was expected as it was check in time. Eventually, we got to the desk and we had a slight issue. The process took a long tiem…about 25 minutes. Our CM kept going behind the desk to another room, checking on something. He kept saying they’re working on some magic, so we couldn’t complain, aside from the fact that we were so tired and just wanted our room. While we were waiting, we also go our First Visit pins and I got my Just Graduated pin! After we got our room key, we went straight to our room. We were given 6th floor Fantasy Tower, which is the tower we requested (Woo!). We got to the room and I immediately fell in love with the decor. Like Tom Bell said in the Disneyland 7in7, the room is best described as “elegant Mickey” and yes, that light up headboard is really that awesome. We used it as a little lighting aesthetic while we slept! The room is large too, we didn’t feel cramped at all. The surprise was on the drawer counter, underneath the TV. There were 3 customized sets of Mickey and Minnie ears. Mine was the Mickey graduation hat version and had my name embroidered on the back and other two were Minnie ears with my sister’s and friend’s name embroidered on the back. I was so happy. Something that was probably so easy for them to do, but it meant so much to me. The Disney magic was real! Our view was also incredible.

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    After we unpacked, we were determined to go to Trader Sam’s because I absolutely needed to go while we were there. I love Tiki culture, the Polynesian at Disney World and rum of course, but reading the reviews it just sounded so much fun. We were also starving, so we wanted to get some snacks. We were possibly thinking about going to Ralph Brennan’s, but we were just so tired considering we were up since about 2am eastern. We headed to Trader Sam’s and ended up getting 2 seats at the bar and my dad/sister didn’t mind standing. WOW, it is definitely small and crowded, but the theming is so much fun. If you love the tiki culture, you must go. The animated windows and the lively bartenders really make it I got the Shrunken Zombie Head and it was incredible. VERY strong, which shocked me considering some reviews I read. My mom and dad got the HippopotoMai-Tai and that was also incredible. I should’ve gotten that, but the Zombie head had a little more cinnamon and mint, aside from that, pretty much the same flavor profile. Again, genuinely surprised at how strong they were. My sister, a margarita conassiuer, had the Rosita's Margarita and said it was just alright. Nothing special, but she doesn’t like rum too much, so she went for the margarita. She said she wishes she just went for straight tequila LOL. The drinks were about $12-$13, so we were shocked at how cheap they were considering where we were. We opted to not get the souvenir cups, so do not feel obligated when they ask. We had the fried long beans, as heavily suggested by the team and YEP THEY WERE INCREDIBLE. I could have had 4 plates of them…so thin and crispy and the sauce was perfect. We also got the Kālua-style Pork Flatbread, which was surprisingly good. One of the better flatbreads I have ever had. The pork was cooked very well and the sauce wasn’t too sweet, crust was crispy. I couldn’t suggest it more. I think I just wanted to live in Trader Sam’s and never leave. I was in absolute love with it.

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    Next, our plans were to either walk to The Grand California to see it and get snacks at Hearthstone Lounge, go to the Steakhouse 55 Lounge or go to Ralph Brennan’s. We were all hitting that plateau where we were exhausted, hungry and we were really feeling those drinks. So, we decided to go to the Steakhouse 55 lounge since it was close and we could get the cake! The whole area of the pool is so nice to walk around because of how nicely it is landscaped. We arrived ot the lounge and the area was nice, but a little loud because the waiting area/check in for Goofy’s Kitchen was right there. My parents complained that for the price you were paying, the lounge seemed sort of just placed there and not closed off from the rest of the area. I agreed, but it was still a nice area. We had some drinks and ordered food. We were told that if you were sitting at the bar, you could get anything from the regular menu, but if you were sitting on the couches and tables, you had a special menu (seemed weird, right?). Regardless, I ordered the Truffle Mac & Cheese ($13) as did my sister, my mom ordered the French Dip ($18) and my dad ordered the Crab Cake sandwich ($19). Ok, so first off…. absolutely the best mac & cheese I have ever had in my life. It was the perfect consistency, great truffle flavor, perfectly cooked pasta. I could’ve licked that bowl. It also seems upon first look that it’s a small portion, but it was VERY filling, I barely finished it. My sister, who could live off mac & cheese and anything truffle flavored, agreed 100%. My mom loved her sandwich. Our waitress told us that the prime rib on the French dip was the exact prime rib they use for the regular menu, so the quality was premier and extremely tender. My dad’s crab cake sandwich was humongous and tasty. We had absolutely no complaints of the food or service. Ok, so last but not least, we asked our waitress if you could get the 24-layer cake because it wasn’t on the menu and she said of course! SCORE. I am not the biggest cake fan or dessert fan, but the cake was certainly impressive. It was very fudgy, moist and dense. Very good for a cake, we all shared it and for $12, great price point. It was not the best dessert I have ever had though, but worth getting.

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    By this point, we all just wanted to go to bed to sleep because we had an early morning to wake up for, so we went back to our room. We all pretty much fell asleep immediately and were all so excited for California Adventure the next day! Onto Day 1!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
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  4. ADLFAN

    ADLFAN DIS Veteran

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    Oh man, that cake looks amazing! Cake and Cocktails are officially added to my must do Disney list!

    What all is on the animal style fries??
     
  5. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    The drinks were really good at Steakhouse 55 too. My dad said he had the best Manhattan of his life there. Cake and cocktails are all you need in life! Animal style fries are regular fries topped with cheese, their special spread sauce (think Big Mac Sauce) and grilled onions. They... are... heaven.
     
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  6. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Day 1: DCA

    We were planning to wake up relatively early to hit rope drop, something that would be interesting for us because of the time difference. All of us really hate to wake up early, especially on vacation, but knowing we were going to be pushing to see as much as we could, we knew we had to and hit Extra Magic Hours. Now for some reason, I just COULD not sleep, which was weird considering how tired I was. I am going to assume it was the immense excitement, but I woke up about every 2 hours. Eventually by 5:30 (which is 8:30 eastern time-when I usually get up), I just stayed up and checked my phone. I looked out the window and saw the pool lit up and decided to go walk around.

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    It was such a cool experience to see the whole pool area completely vacant, except for a couple landscapers. The pool was incredible all lit up and completely still. It was very chilly, but it was very soothing, especially considering how I am NEVER up that early, let alone exploring. The hat was also really fun to see all lit up with no one around.

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    I went back to the room and we started to look over the room service menu! We get room service once every vacation, it’s one of our traditions and we thought since we were going to be in a rush the first morning, what better time to do it. This was also my chance to get a Mickey Waffle!

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    We split a Mickey Waffle and my parents got the American Breakfast, which included eggs, breakfast potatoes, choice of meat and toast. The Mickey Waffle was of course incredible and we got it with the warm mixed berries, which was very fresh and flavorful, but it just didn’t match traditional syrup. The warm berries did taste excellent with the toast. But sheesh…I know room service is expensive and you’re paying those Disney prices, but those 2 entrees and a pot of coffee was like $70 LOL. It was definitely a special occasion and the quality was there, just a little pricey. But again, we all knew and expected that…it wasn’t a surprise. So after breakfast, we finished getting dressed and by 8, we were out the door and we went to Downtown Disney! We wanted to get in the DCA line around 8:30, so we killed some time in the World of Disney, which was really nice because it was dead empty. I know how busy it can get, so it was really nice being able to browse with essentially no one else in the store. I found basically 900 souvenirs I wanted, but refrained (for now). We didn't want to carry anything around the park for now, but we were coming back later. We approached the DCA gates and there was a modest line, but nothing crazy. We spoke to a really nice family from San Francisco, talking about the very distinct differences between West Coast and East Coast life and some tips for the park. It was then time to finally walk in!

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    Last edited: Jun 27, 2017
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  7. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    As we walked through the gates, I immediately became extremely emotional. After virtually a lifetime of life struggles and wishing to come here, 7+ months of planning and endless hours spent looking at the park through pictures and YouTube…we made it. It was one of those moments that you simply cannot put into words. I was so genuinely excited, as excited as I have been in years for anything. Buena Vista Street was simply stunning and the music just put you into that mood of old Hollywood. But first before we explored, we wanted to get set up for the DAS system.

    In my previous 3 trips to WDW, I had the DAS pass as well. The first two trips were with the “old” system as I would call it. The one where you would go through the exit pretty much immediately. In my last trip, we experienced the new system at WDW. We were aware of it, after hearing about the changes on the news, but it definitely stunk that they had to change it. I completely understand why they had to, but it was unfortunate for people who really needed it. I won’t get into my whole diagnosis, but I have a couple conditions that make my energy levels not normal for a 22-year-old, so I have issues waiting in line, especially in the heat. If anyone wants to discuss personally with me, feel free to personal message me! But continuing, we had called the disability/guest services, which is based in Florida, to learn about the Disneyland system and to anyone who thought it was the same as WDW, oh it is not…it is so much better. It’s confusing at first, but I’ll go into a little bit of depth because I could not find any of this information online. Essentially, you bring your admission ticket to a designated guest services umbrella located throughout both parks. They’re located on the map. You tell them you’d like a return time for ______, no matter what the ride is, and you get a return time. At least in my experiences, that wait was never longer than 30 minutes (aside from Radiator Springs Racers: that one was about a 1.5 hour wait when we requested it at 10am) and sometimes as short as 5 minutes. For someone who can’t wait in line for hours and has limited park time, this was incredible. Once you ride something, you can immediately get another return time for something else and sit on a bench somewhere and just relax.

    At Guest Services, the cast member (who was very nice), briefly asked about why I needed the DAS pass. Cast Members in general aren’t allowed to ask specifically why for privacy reasons, but if you have paperwork from a doctor (which I suggest you bring if they question you a lot), it helps because obviously, people try to take advantage of the system. I can’t and won’t blame Disney for this because there are people who really need this to experience the parks. She asked questions like how long can you wait in line and a couple other questions. After getting it all sorted out, she explained that it would be done by scanning our tickets, like I said before, and that the person who is associated with DAS needs to be on the ride for it to be used. So basically, if your family wants to go on a ride but the person associated with DAS doesn’t, they would not be allowed to use the DAS. She also said that the max amount of people allowed on to ride a ride is 5 (the DAS + 4). I think this was the number, but it might be 6 (DAS + 5). If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask and I will try and answer it because by the end of our 2 days, we were almost pros at it. We had only used a fast pass once the whole time. After getting that all sorted out, she asked if we were celebrating anything (YAY MORE PINS!!!). We told her I graduated to get more “Just Graduated!” pins, we got more “1st Visit!” pins, we got “I’m Celebrating: Disney Trip!” pins and she also asked if my parents were celebrating any anniversaries, which they were…but 3 weeks early (their 32nd wedding anniversary would be on June 9th), so she gave them “Happily Ever After: 32 years” pins. It was very nice of her. Let’s just say I came home with a mini bag full of them…I’m not complaining. As I said, we couldn't have had a better cast member. She helped us seamlessly and answered all of our questions and made us feel like we knew her for years...this is why Disney is the best!

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    Once we were done with Guest Services, our day officially begun!
     
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  8. mnmrmustard

    mnmrmustard DIS Veteran

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    Great TR so far! Love the detail and good pics you are adding to it. And that you are talking about the food and especially the drinks - my DD is turning 21 and we plan on starting our Disneyfied pub crawl at Sam's!

    Looking forward to reading more!
     
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  9. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much! I am so glad to hear I am getting good feedback about my first TR. A lot more food and drink reviews are on their way too! Simply cannot suggest Trader Sam's more...definitely try and wait for seats indoors because the atmosphere really makes the drinks even better. The outdoor patio is very comfortable though.
     
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  10. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    So now with guest services and our DAS all set up, we were on our way to “Soarin’ Around the World!” considering it’s directly in the front of the park as soon as you make a right at the end of Buena Vista Street. With Extra Magic Hours, we didn’t schedule a return time for Soarin’, but we did schedule a return time for Radiator Springs Racers, which was about 25 minutes later. I forgot to mention earlier that you can get a DAS return time for any ride, no matter what part of the park you’re in, which eliminates A LOT of walking. At WDW, you must go up to that attraction to get a return time. Ok back to the day. So, we go into Grizzly Peak, which is a beautifully themed land. It’s supposed to look like a California National Park and it achieves that. BTW, for Disney nerds who love to listen to background audio loops, the Grizzly Peak one is currently one of my favorites…it’s incredible. The building is themed so well, as it truly looks like a hangar. The queue blasts ARGUABLY my favorite background loop and it has a lot of facts about aviation, so while you wait in line, you have cool things to read. If you have been to Epcot’s Soarin’ and you didn’t really understand the theme because…. well there isn’t, you will be really impressed by DCA’s Soarin’. The wait was about 5-10 minutes, which obviously is not bad at all. Definitely utilize EMH The loading area and preshow were the same as Epcot’s (I still laugh listening to Patrick Warburton’s spiel LOL). Now onto the actual ride…if you’ve listened to the Dis Unplugged: Disneyland Edition, you’ll know of the screen distortion from the new version. Sorry to say, it is there and apparent. We sat front row/left end and we saw distortion about half the time. The pyramids and Eiffel Tower were especially noticeable. My mom, who never notices that stuff, even made a comment. My dad, being the engineer he is, was confused as to how a company like Disney didn’t account for this. I haven’t seen the new film at Epcot yet, so I don’t know of any distortion there, but overall, we still absolutely loved it. Like I said, I haven’t seen Soarin’ Around the World in Epcot, but I’d assume it’s pretty much, if not exactly, the same. In my opinion, Soarin’ is still a must do just because it really is cool and the ending scene where you fly over Disneyland just makes it. The ride vehicle still fascinates me to this day, as I remember seeing commercials for it on the Disney Channel growing up.

    After Soarin’ we headed back towards Buena Vista Street and went towards Cars Land…and wow is it breathtaking. If you have watched Cars (no reason to see Cars 2, I don’t know about Cars 3), you will immediately recognize Radiator Springs. Between Flo’s V8 Café, the Cozy Cone Motel and the outskirts of Radiator Springs. It’s absolutely unreal. In comparison, I would still say Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade are more fully-immersive, but I think that’s just because of the actual intellectual property sceneries that were available. We headed directly to Radiator Springs Racers, which is directly in the back of Radiator Springs, then head left if you’re coming from Buena Vista Street. I will talk about the other way to enter Cars Land that has been suggested VIA The Dis and the guide book because WOW.

    Okay, so Radiator Springs Racers is essentially Test Track x 10. It is the same track layout (to my knowledge), but obviously Cars themed. The waterfall is breathtaking, the animatronics are really cool and the scenery is just fully immersive. One of the best rides I have ever been on in my life. Here are some pictures from our first part of Cars Land before we make our way to Paradise Pier!


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    Cool view of Grizzly River Run!

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    Really cool view of Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! Sadly, it wouldn't open for another 12 days...

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  11. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    I apologize for the long wait in between posts. Last month, I started my first adult/post graduate full time job and I haven’t had much time to write! I am going to devote some time this weekend to try and at least finish a good deal of the DCA day, if not finish it. One thing I forgot to include above is our experience with Photopass in Cars Land. There were many opportunities for pictures. Obviously, there is a ride photo on RSRs, there is a picture with the fire truck (forget its name), a Mater statue, one in front of the Cars Land sign. Those are all the ones we did, so I could be missing a couple, but I am pretty sure that is it according to the DL website... I thought it was sort of funny because my dad thought the Cars movie was alright and he isn’t that into taking pictures, but he was ALL about the Photopass. It was more that we paid for it…so we were going to use it. We got the $99 for a week, even though we were there for only 2 days because of the pricing versus 2-1 day uses. For families that like to have their pictures taken, this is worth it. Now with Maxpass included, it seems like a really good deal actually…one that I would definitely get.

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  12. mnmrmustard

    mnmrmustard DIS Veteran

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    Congrats on the new job!

    Thank you for your thoughts on PhotoPass. We're contemplating MaxPass for our November trip.

    Looking forward to more DCA fun and more food and drinks!
     
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  13. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    So next, we wanted to go to Paradise Pier (we were definitely planning on coming back to Cars Land to ride Radiator Springs Racers again) and I just wanted to say it is unreal how close everything is…in a good way. It doesn’t seem packed, but everything is just so easy to get to, which is nice. Paradise Pier reminded me exactly of a Jersey shore boardwalk, but nicer/better kept (LOL). We stopped at a red tent to get a return time for California Screamin’ and it was really short, about 10 minutes because the standby was about 5-10 minutes. I really just could’ve stood and took in the sights for hours. Between Screamin’, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, the water…it is an absolutely beautiful view. We did get a picture taken there with Photopass later in the day when it was a little less cloudy, but I don’t think they came out that well. The actual photo looks good, but our family has a hard time posing for pictures LOL. But, I think it also helped that it was an absolutely perfect day weather wise. It was actually a little chilly. It was weird being in a Disney park and not being drowned in sweat and actually being cold…it was pleasant! I should have brought a jacket though, but I would have rather been a little cold than a little hot. By the time we actually got to Screamin’, it was time to ride and boy was I nervous. I do a majority of rides no problem. I love Space Mountain, BTMR, but I struggle with rides that have big drops and I have never done a ride with a loop in it. Last time I was at Animal Kingdom, I was very mad at myself that I didn’t go on Expedition Everest, so I told myself I had to do it because I might never get the chance again and I’d regret it. So I got sat in the front row and I was SHAKING. But….IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. The launch was unreal. TIP THOUGH: Someone told us while we were waiting in line to keep your head back before it launches; otherwise, your head knocks back. The track was incredibly smooth, the drops weren’t too bad and it was perfectly fast. I could have gone on it multiple times, but it definitely shook me up a little bit! Halfway through, the guy sitting next to my sister said, “Sounds like we got a screamer” because I was screaming so loud…WHOOPS LOL. But I think if you’re iffy about going on it, do it and you won’t regret it.

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  14. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Thank you so much! Based on multiple videos I have seen regarding Maxpass, it seems to be an absolute hit. It obviously sucks you have to pay for it, but people that has used it seem to love it and with Photopass included, it seems like a good deal!
     
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  15. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    I just realized that some of my pictures are coming out a little blurry. I took them on my phone and when they enlarged, they're getting a little grainy. I apologize! My new camera didn't come in time unfortunately.
     
  16. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    After we finished at Screamin’, we got a return time for Toy Story Midway Mania. Sadly, when our return time was up, TSMM was temporarily closed, meaning we had a little more time to kill, so we went to Little Mermaid ride, which was something we wanted to do anyway. It was very relaxing, nothing special, but very enjoyable. It’s the exact ride as the Magic Kingdom’s version, but there was practically no wait and I don’t think there ever is, so it was nice to get off our feet. Who doesn’t love going under the sea anyway ;)! By the time it was over, TSMM was back open, so we went back over. I have never rode it in Hollywood Studios, so I was very excited. It was SO much fun. You get a work out! But the scenes and games were so much fun, especially if you’re a Toy Story fan (which I am, it’s my favorite Pixar series). My mom somehow came in 1st out of all of us! Oddly, I wouldn’t put it up there with the best rides I have ever been on like many people do, but I still loved it. I wouldn’t wait more than 45 minutes for it I think though, since waits get be extreme in DHS.

    After TSMM, we got another return time for RSRs. It was roughly 45 minutes, which was definitely because the wait for it was getting longer. We had no issue with it because we wanted to stroll and take a little break. As suggested by the Dis Unplugged team, this time we took the back entrance (from Pacific Wharf) to Cars Land. This way was STUNNING. We didn’t get to see it at night with the lights on (I’ll explain later), but the arches where you see RSR and Flo’s V8 Café to the left is truly Imagineering and design at its best.

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    This was one of my favorite pictures! Love the action shot.
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    In the pictures, you can really tell how stunning Cars Land and the second entrance from Pacific Wharf is. While we waited for our return time for RSR, we were a little hungry (it was around 11) and our reservation for _____ was at 1:30 (you’ll find out where we’re going soon ;)!), so we stopped at the Cozy Cone Motel to get a couple snacks to hold us over. I thought this was a great opportunity to get a churro and knock something off my checklist! My sister got the pretzel bites and a frozen lemonade. The churro was incredible…so crispy and sugary. It definitely beat a Costco churro or the frozen Trader Joe’s ones. $4.99 is certainly steep for a churro, but it is definitely shareable and hey…you’re in Disneyland…splurge a little! There is an option for dipping sauces at no additional charge, but to be honest…you don’t need it. My sister’s pretzel bites were very decent and her frozen lemonade was EXTREMELY sweet. We’re all sensitive to really sweet things, but this was outrageous. I felt my blood sugar immediately spike (one of my diagnosis’s is I am Type 1 diabetic, so I actually had proof it spiked LOL). I was actually mad at myself because if anyone has watched “Fresh Baked” om YouTube, you would know they love the Frozen Apple Juice known as “Red’s Apple Freeze” and the Cozy Cone Motel is a location you can get it at. I guess now I just have to go back! By the time we finished our snacks and relaxed a little, it was time for RSRs and it was definitely more crowded. Standby was long and so was single rider. Ride #2 was just as good! Sadly, we got the same side as last time, so we got the same experience, but the ride was still incredible. For some reason, we skipped Luigi’s Rollickin Roaders and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. I did want to go on Luigi’s, but it wasn’t the end of the world that we missed it. Now, it was around 12 and we had time before our ADR at 1:30. We were oddly making great time on everything and we had much more time that we originally thought we would. This was great for us because we were still extremely tired from our travel day and we were still jet lagged a little, so now we were able to take the afternoon a little more laid back.

    Coming up, one of the most magical things ever happened to my mom and I cannot WAIT to tell every one about it...
     

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  17. Frozen2014

    Frozen2014 DIS Veteran

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    Great report so far. We're coming for first time in 3.5 weeks and can't wait. Cars land in particular looks really cool and different from WDW.
     
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  18. mnmrmustard

    mnmrmustard DIS Veteran

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    LOVE the immersive theming of Cars Land, great shots from that area. I could spend a day just walking around checking out the details.
     
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  19. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    So it was now around 12:45-1 and we had reservations for Carthay Circle at 1:30 for lunch. This was one restaurant I absolutely was dying to go to. Between the history/backstory of the restaurant, the interior and the menu, this was a must. For reference, we did make this reservation 60 days in advance because we knew we wanted this specific time. We were debating going for dinner, but there were options for a while. I’d say 2-3 weeks prior, most times were booked because we were checking every day. I always read that you don’t have to book your Disneyland ADRs like you do for WDW, but I really do suggest that if you know what time and day you want to go somewhere, book it just in case ASAP (for restaurants like Carthay Circle, Napa Rose, Café Orleans, Blue Bayou, etc.) We’ll get more into this later, but first…we headed to the front of the park and we explored Buena Vista Street further, since we had some time to kill, while waiting for our ADR. We walked in some of the gift shops and the candy shops, all incredible themed and it had that typical Disney feel that made you want to buy everything of course! That is one thing that I definitely regret (over the course of this whole trip) was that I didn’t get enough time to explore the shops (but again, I will talk about this further at the recap at the very end). Now here is where true Disney magic happened. We used the restrooms on Hollywood Boulevard (across from Award Wieners) and we were walking towards Carthay Circle. We were the ONLY ones on the sidewalk and we walk past the fence, right before it turns into Carthay Circle, when Minnie pops out from backstage! We were the ONLY ones in sight for her and she immediately started to interact with us 1on1. Then…she grabbed my mom’s arm and took her on a stroll through Hollywood Boulevard/Buena Vista Street to her Meet & Greet location. It was a LENGTHY stroll and my mom absolutely lit up. We got incredible pictures and I got most of it on video (i’ll try and figure out a way to post it on here because it was just oozing Disney magic). Once we got to her location, we had first dibs and she took so many pictures with us with the Photopass photographer. I am not huge on meeting characters because I always feel awkward, but this was just out of this world. She even saw I had Mickey on my shirt and got so giggly. The character interaction was amazing and we are still talking about it to this day. It was just one of those things where you simply cannot plan. My mom cried tears of happiness periodically throughout the day, not only because it was so special, but because this happened to my sister when my parents took her to Walt Disney World when she was 2 or 3 (but then again, my mom is always emotional LOL). They were in MGM on Streets of America completely alone when either Mickey or Minnie popped out (I forget) and they interacted with her for a while alone. This just made her think of that exact moment and it was icing on the cake for the whole morning.

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    We did have time to catch the Red Car Trolley News Boys show and I actually liked it more than I thought I would. I was never a fan of the Newsies growing up, but I guess that’s what having Mickey infused will do to you. We sat on the fountain and just hung out until 1:30. Now it was time for a great lunch!!!
     
  20. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Now it was time for our ADR and we went into Carthay Circle. Now what a beautiful restaurant. It was vintage Hollywood and the amount of pictures to look at was incredible. You could spend a decent amount of time just absorbing the scenery. We checked in and waited in the lounge. We were studying the drink menu, but didn’t order anything because we didn’t know how long it’d take. The drink menu is EXTENSIVE, so study up. It has plenty of classic cocktails and a couple of Walt’s and Lillian’s favorites, which was very cool! Note: If you were thinking of just eating in the lounge because you couldn’t get an ADR, the menu is different and from things I have heard, you are not allowed to order things from the main menu. The lounge was also pretty crowded, especially considering it was past prime lunch time.

    Our table was ready and we brought upstairs. The dining room was absolutely breathtaking. Pictures you see online don’t do it justice. Now originally, we were brought to a table in a separate dining room (which wasn’t themed that well and it had the windows open, so you could still hear outside). We politely requested to sit at a table in the main dining room and we only had to wait maybe an extra 10 minutes. It was extremely worth it. Our table was right underneath the chandelier in the center of the room with the beautiful painting accompanying it.

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    Now the important part…FOOD AND DRINKS. We were absolutely starving at this point, the whole menu sounded incredible. For drinks, my parents had Manhattans, I had the Carthay Club Mojito and my sister had the Carthay Martini with Gin. My Mojito was one of the best I have ever had. Perfect proportions of mint and lime, not too sweet either. My sister absolutely loved her martini and its olives and my parents both loved their Manhattans, but my dad said his one at the S55 lounge was better (but it was also a really expensive bourbon). We knew coming in we were going to get an order of the biscuits and the duck wings for appetizers. We also decided on the Ceviche of Citrus-marinated Cobia after it being suggested from our server. We ate everything so fast, I didn’t even get a picture of it. But everything was AMAZING. The biscuits were more like stuffed bread balls, but the flavors were outstanding. Couldn’t suggest it more. The duck wings were VERY spicy, but had really complex flavors. You can’t really tell its duck, aside from the shape, as it really does taste like a chicken wing. The ceviche was so light and flavorful and the plantain chips were the perfect accompaniment for it. It wasn’t “fishy” at all, which meant it was really fresh and the perfect fish for a ceviche. For entrees, my mom and I got the Gnocchetti Pasta with Briased Short Rib, my sister got the Tri-tip, my dad got the salmon. The pasta was incredible. I was expected shredded short rib, but you get a MASSIVE whole short rib and the pesto that came with it was so flavorful. My sister loved her steak, had no complaints and my dad loved his salmon.

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    If you were thinking about going to Carthay Circle, but were worried about the high price….go. It is worth it. Great service, REALLY flavorful, fresh food and an atmosphere you simply cannot get anywhere else. You felt transported back to Walt’s time.

    Now after lunch, my sister’s back was hurting (she got stuck on the pullout couch), so she wanted to go back and nap. We decided to walk her back, but first, I wanted to stop at the Starbucks and pick up the “You Are Here” mug! This was one thing I definitely wanted to collect from both parks while we were there and I was very happy I did. If you go into the Starbucks, they have HUGE displays of them. The DCA one is really cool too.

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  21. ParksPixar&Pizza

    ParksPixar&Pizza Mouseketeer

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    Once we got back to the room, my sister just relaxed and we decided that she would stay in the room a little bit, while we went back and she’d just meet us back in DCA. We did relax a little bit because we were so full from lunch, so we just laid in bed, charged our phones a little and had the commercial channel playing on the TV. I genuinely forget if there was a Disneyland version of WDW Today, but I believe their version JUST started after we left. Around 4, we headed back into DCA and briefly did some shopping in Downtown Disney. We stopped at WonderGround Gallery and looked at the wonderful art. There were a lot of cool pieces, but they were expensive. We did find these really cool postcard sized vintage attraction poster prints that we meant to buy, but just completely forgot. There were many larger pieces we wanted, but just had no clue how to get them home. We stopped at Starbucks after because it was going to be a late night. I don’t think I need to review Starbucks, but it was a really cool Starbucks. VERY large and I imagine it gets packed at certain points in the day. By the time we got back into DCA, we caught the very end of the Pixar Play Parade. We saw the Toy Story parts, which was cool because Toy Story is my favorite. I got to see Buzz, so I was happy!
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    We went on Soarin’ again because I forgot to say that before we left, we made a reservation for Soarin’ because once you made a return time, you could come back at any point that day (the time never expired). As before, Soarin’ was great and the area BGM was still incredible. We walked into Hollywood Land and continued to the Monsters, Inc. ride. It was an okay ride. Nothing special. It needed some work and if you knew the history behind it, it showed. I wouldn’t wait more than 5-10 minutes for it. If you like Monsters Inc., by all means you’ll love the ride. But my dad said he was really surprised at how boring and poorly themed it was. I t did seem a little bare. But it was a good filler ride when you have time to kill. After that, we stopped at Off the Page, which ahd more collectibles and art pieces. A lot of cool stuff if you like figurines, art and posters. It had a lot of retro pieces too. I could’ve spent a lot more time there. By this time, my sister met up with us and we decided to hang out at somewhere until World of Color. We checked Cove Bar and there was still a really long line.

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    I love Pinocchio, so these pieces were really cool!
    So, we went to the Alfresco Tasting Terrace. We had this place noted as a possible place to check out, but it wasn’t definite. If you don’t know where it is, it’s right next to Wine Country Trattoria (up the stairs). There aren’t many tables, but the view is incredible. They have an extensive wine list, full of Disney family and Californian wines (who would’ve thought!) and a small snack/appetizer list. My parents and sister are huge wine drinkers, I enjoy it, but I don’t go crazy. It usually just makes me tired, so I usually avoid it, but I thought why not! Service was pretty quick, as there was only one server at the time. We ordered the Charcuterie and Cheese Board, which was actually bigger than I thought it would be for $12 and it was VERY tasty. Now here was the hard part…the wine. We all opted for the wine flights, so we could try a lot of different wines. I opted for the Red, White, & Rose flight, my sister got the Perfect Pinots, my mom got the Tour of the Napa Valley and I believe my dad got the Red Blends. All the wines REALLY impressed us. I’ve been trending towards white/rose because I love cold beverages and they were all excellent. My mom, who has been a red wine drinker for years, started to again drink whites and is still talking about the Frank Valley Chardonnay she had from her flight. She said it was the best wine she ever had. These flights were definitely expensive… $25-27. The pours were large, but still. It was definitely a special occasion thing. The 4 flights, appetizer and tip came out to like $125…WOOF. But the experience I think was worth it. Was it a must go? No, but if you want to relax a little and try some really REALLY good wine...go for it. We have been dying to go to Napa, so we got our Disney/Napa fix! I would go back if given the change. Wine lovers unite!

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    STAR WARS WINE!!!!!!
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    *Credit Jeong P on Yelp* (I forgot to take a picture of the appetizer)

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    It also had a really cool view of Mission Breakout!

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    We also saw our first Disneyland feral cat, which was so cool...they're really used to people and they're friendly. It just hung out with us!​
     

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