Disney's California Adventure
Trip Start Jul 15, 2008
21Trip End Jul 30, 2008
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We braved early morning LA rush hour and all things being equal it was not too bad. There was the usual cars on all sides about 10 feet away going 70+. I have always been a 55mph guy, but I am slowly adapting to driving at these higher speeds. For the most part the traffic moved and we got there in about an hour. Then we spent what seemed to be another hour, (though it wasn't), driving through various parking lots getting to Disney's 6 story parking garage.
Disney knows how to cram 10 pounds of crap in a 5 pound bag. They direct you to one location to pay $12. They then hand you a paper map that has you drive, and I am not exaggerating here, a half mile to their parking facility. Pat was reading the directions to me as I made about a half dozen turns to get to this place. In fact, at one point, I left their parking lot, returned to the surface road, to be re-directed to their parking lot. I missed no turns and followed their directions. In fact, the Cast Member, (Disney-eez for poor guy stuck in a parking facility kiosk all day), congratulated me on doing this. He of course was there for me to show the ticket to so you could park in their structure, or to take some other poor sap's money who wandered in from some other direction and needed a place to park. At any rate we parked in Mickey 7E.
Now it is time to make our way back a quarter of a mile or so to the tram station. The trams were efficient and arrived promptly. We received the same, "stay seated, arms and hands inside the vehicle, retain loose objects, don't throw whiny kids/obnoxious adults/know-it-alls from Connecticut from the tram", lecture that everyone who goes to Disney receives. The whiny kids/obnoxious adults/know-it-alls is my addition, but I think most would agree to have it added if it were put up for a vote.
Now it was time to buy the tickets. This is a very foreign concept for Pat and me. We are used to pre-paying for the Disney trip - We show up at the chosen hotel, receive a cool plastic card that gets you everywhere, and we are done. Not this time. We had to buy the one day passes which required me to stand in line with the common folk. That would have been fine also but the Cast Member, (Disney-eez for poor lady stuck in a ticket kiosk all day), has apparently been told to up sell, or people don't figure what they want before walking up to the kiosk in spite of the huge signs explaining your choices. Whatever the problem was, it took at least 15 minutes longer than it should have.
I had the tickets and joined Pat and Sarah at some little breakfast cafe in Downtown Disney located just outside the main gates of both Disneyland and California Adventure. How convenient. I would never have thought of putting a capitalistic venture like that within walking distance of people waiting to enter an amusement park. Only Disney. And then charge them 4 bucks for a cup of coffee. Freakin' brilliant. Don't mind me this is just jealousy rearing its ugly head.
Now it is time to get in line to enter the park. While waiting, a nice Cast Member, (Disney-eez for poor lady stuck walking around in the sun talking to guests waiting in line), came up to us and engaged us in conversation. I am thinking cool. Year of a million dreams, etc. etc. what are we gonna get for free? We got metal buttons !! Thats right - metal buttons to pin on our shirts that have the whole Disney gang on it and the words " 1st Visit." I was slightly emotional.
Now the gates open, and into the park we go. The park is small and easy to maneuver around. Additionally there were not may people there. We had no problem riding all the rides we wanted, (some more than once), with the exception of the new Toy Story ride. It was broken down when we first got there. This caused an all day line that was further exasperated by it breaking down later in the day.
The layout of the park reminds me of Hershey Park in a lot of ways. I imagine California Adventure is bigger than Hershey, but not by much. It does not have the Hershey Park hills which can suck at the end of the day. We traversed the park several times with no difficulty. In fact we were surprised how untired we were near the end of the day. The weather is excellent here and that has a lot to do with it. We never broke a sweat at the park. It is always in the lower to mid 80's with a cool breeze. And NO humidity. I now have a better understanding on why people flock to the LA area. From talking to locals summer is not all that different from winter. I could get used to that.
I will not bother you with details of all of the rides/shows. I do want to point out 3 highlights. The genie in the 40 minute Aladdin musical is a hoot. Sarah is still doing bits. I was more than a little surprised by this. I just could not see some guy being able to follow in Robin Williams foot steps. I could not have been more wrong. The jokes were good and more surprisingly they were up to date.
The other ride that bears mentioning is the huge ferris wheel, or as I like to call it; The Wheel of Death. This statement of course requires a story so here it goes. I will ride about anything. Not a big fan of fast spinning things only because as I have gotten older I get mildly motion sick. Nothing I can't handle, but I don't bother with them unless Sarah needs someone to ride with her. I will ride any and all roller coasters. I love things that go upside down.
My Achilles heel is the ferris wheel. I am scared to death of them. This is highly stupid and irrational. I have been in much worse situations at work with much less fear. I don't understand why I am like this but I am. I force myself to ride these things, because I hate being scared of anything. This ferris wheel however wins. It has two kinds of cars. The normal death cars which I forced myself to ride in with Pat and Sarah. As wheels of death go this was not too bad.
There is however a new and more diabolical form of torture attached to this spinning wheel of death. It has free floating cars that slide on rails as the wheel spins. Of course when the wheel stops what does the car do? That's right - it continues to move and swing. No way not in this or any other life time.
However, Pat and Sarah found this interesting and had to try it. I can't get either of them to ride a nice safe roller coaster that is attached to rails and cannot leave the track. They will ride an unsecured, sliding, swinging basket 200 feet above the ground, and smile at me as they go by. So brave man that I am, I let them ride the wheel of death as stood on the ground and contemplated how I was going to save them from the lake when the car fell off. I am a wimp.
Another cool thing we got to do was go to a mini art class. You walk in to a big studio, and an artist talks you through drawing a Disney character. First we drew Pooh Bear. Sarah liked it so much we went back again. This time we drew Minnie Mouse. Sarah draws the best Pooh Bear, Pat draws the best Minnie Mouse, and the only thing I can "draw" is my side-arm.
All in all, it was a great day. I know I poked some fun at Disney, but it was only in fun. They do what they do and they do it well. Even if California Adventure is a little smaller and not quite as well themed it is still cool, and I would come back again.
Sarah having fun at California Adventure
West Coast Divison
Where I stayed