There's the age old debated among Disney fans about which is better, Disneyland or Disney World. Many say that Disney World is better and I can certain agree on most points. They say it's a destination where you hunker down for a full week instead of a place (Disneyland) you go for a few days if you just happen to be in the area. They argue that there are four parks and two water parks. They bring up the New Fantasy Land and how Cinderella's Castle is way better than Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
By chance, my family went to Disneyland before we ever went to Disney World, so Disneyland was what set the benchmark for me. Yes, there are four parks in Disney World, but only one is friendly to smaller children like Brady was his first time and Izzie was this time (her first time). The property is so large that it can take you an hour to get to a park from your hotel, whereas Disneyland is so close to non-property hotels it's a no brainer to just walk. It's crazy crowded most of the year (I have been there in February, May, June, and December so have had a taste at different times and still busy). It's also crazy hot and humid!!! We went in May and it was in the high 90s and we sweated through our clothes halfway through the day. Even going in December, I remember Andy whining that it was hot and it was 80 degrees. We didn't have a single day over 75 degrees the entire time we were in California and were comfortable every day, not too cold or not too hot. Yes, California in general is more expensive than the majority of the US, but Disney is expensive no matter which resort you choose. Disneyland is what set the mold for Disney World and the property Walt Disney was able to purchase in Florida was simply massive and that allowed for more parks to be built, but it's the original. You have to try it at least once.
The major draw for us was the addition of Cars Land in 2012, located within the California Adventure park. I saw the first Cars movie in the theatres when I was in college (even though I didn't have any kids, I was always a Disney fan). Brady was 1 when Cars 2 came out, and of course I was going to take him to see it! He was always in love with cars (they say boys either are obsessed with cars or dinosaurs, but never both) and was hooked instantly. Cars 2 dealt with an international race circuit and with us just finding out we were going to Europe it was the perfect theme for Brady's second birthday! He got both movies on Blu Ray, a Cars potty seat, and a huge race track, complete with the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben attachments from the movie.
Cars Land opened right as we were returning from Europe and we still hadn't made our decision to stay in California versus fly to Hawaii after Chris's graduation. I'm a huge planner and saw our first opportunity to visit Disneyland in 2024 (yes, I plan that much ahead). Brad would be 14 by then and who knew if he'd still like Cars. Likely, he'd be about to head to high school and be too cool for it. My brother, Chris, had the opportunity to go there during winter break. He's not easily impressed, but he started sending me pics via text of Radiator Springs and he couldn't stop saying how awesome it was. He even sent us a video text while riding the main ride in that part of the park, known as Radiator Springs Racers. Brady couldn't stop talking about Chris going to Cars Land. Chris got Brady a Lightning McQueen baseball hat with Mickey ears.
Our friends, the Reeses, happened to go to Disneyland this past fall and were able to give us the scoop on Cars Land and boy are we grateful that they did or we would've been set up for disappointment. We arrived at California Adventure on our second day in Disney and were earlier than opening time, but they let us in. They had everyone stopped at the fountain in the middle of Buena Vista Street until official park opening. Bethany had told me to get a fast pass for the Radiator Springs Racers first thing as they run out of them quickly and if you wait in line, it's easily two hours or more. When they let people in, right away you could tell we weren't the only ones who knew. They had cast members yelling out that if you wanted a fast pass for Radiator Springs Racers, the line was forming to the left. It's so serious that I waited in line for 20 minutes just to get to the fast pass machines, and in order to keep it moving, they have cast members inserting tickets to remain efficient. My mind was blown and could only imagine how good it was that people would not only wait in line for fast passes longer than they wait in line for rides, and that the stand by wait is two hours and people wait for it!
Disney classically spared no expense when it came to the creation of Cars Land and their attention to detail is unparalleled. It was like we had literally walked into the movie!
I took Brady on Radiator Springs Racers first and got the Rider Switch for Andy so they could ride again without waiting in line. Brady was beyond excited and was hoping we'd get Sally to ride in. We got lucky and got Sally and front row seats. It starts by taking you on a scenic tour of the beautiful ride that Sally and McQueen share (complete with music from that part of the movie). Then you go inside and through all the shops of Radiator Springs, with all the characters inside and talking to you. After you've met them all, your car comes along side another and then they race on the outside track that McQueen and Doc Hudson race in the movie. It's fast and so much fun!!!
What fast Disney ride would be complete without a pic snapped mid-ride? I was bummed that you couldn't see Brady's face, but the woman at the photo booth told me that the back middle is best for little kids to get a picture.
Andy managed to get him that spot on their ride.
Right after my ride with Brady, we saw Red right out on Main Street!
You've gotta get a pic!
While Andy and Brady were riding, I saw McQueen at the Cozy Cone and got in line.
They took a bit longer than I anticipated and after letting numerous people pass me, Mater showed up to take McQueen's spot. The cars are real and have a driver inside, so they get breaks just like all the other characters.
The cars even talk! I bet the driver has buttons to hit because his phrases were very situation specific and when you said goodbye, he said it back!
One of the other rides is Luigi's Flying Tires and I waited in line to ride with Brady. It's like air hockey with giant tires and you lean to move your tire and bump into others.
We finally caught up with McQueen much later in the day.
I had read that it's very cool when they turn on the neon in Radiator Springs, but it doesn't happen until sunset. I was worried that we might not get to see it as the park was set to close maybe 10 minutes after the official sunset time posted on the Weather Channel. We were hanging out hoping to see it, when the music from the movie, "Life Could be a Dream," came on and I knew it was going to happen as that's what happens in the movie.
They came on one by one just like in the movie!
For some reason, Ramone is Brady's favorite character and he has the body shop.
Some of the stores are for food and others have merchandise. Inside of Ramone's they had Piston Cups and of course we had to get Brady one where the name plate read, champion. It's perfect for his Cars bedroom. On another note, remember Brady's meltdown in Downtown Disney when he didn't want any of the souvenirs but didn't want to leave without one. Guess what he picked? The same toy I was trying to convince him to buy the night before! He really was tired.
Brady with the statue of Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs.
Mater's junkyard, which houses a ride called, Junkyard Jamboree, where you get swung around in the tractors that he and McQueen like to tip by honking their horns.
The kids with a tractor, which is likened to cows in the movie. Get it, tractor tipping?
Trying to get a good shot down Main Street with all the neon on.
Who could capture that shot better than Disney? When you have photos in certain places or with certain characters, your Photo Pass recognizes that and provides you of stock photos of that location or characters.
The scenery on Radiator Springs Racers.
Day two on the Racers. I stood in line again for fast passes because 20 min is nothing compared to two hours.
Watching the Racers.
There is no shortage of great angles for pictures in Radiator Springs and it took us two days to happen upon this one coming from the Wharf. We were glad we did and as always, a Photo Pass photographer is ready.
Hitch hiking on Route 66.
Pretending to freak out because Brady is driving.
In the afternoons, they have a dance party every hour. This is DJ who is only in a very short portion of the movie when they scared Mac and McQueen falls out of his trailer, which leads to his arrival in Radiator Springs.
Izzie loved it!
I had looked at the McQueen pics from the night before and didn't like that because it was at night, we were all in our sweatshirts, and the flash made us look overexposed. I wanted a good one with him and we waited around for him before we left the parks for good.
I still have one more post about our lunch with the princesses, but this post is the last one about our time out and about in the parks. We had a blast and Brady is still talking about it. We love Disney (duh) and planner me already knows when we'll take our next Disney adventure. One of the great things about Michigan is that they don't require as many school days as PA and also build in snow days (which is smart when you live anywhere it snows), so they have the ability to take a mid-winter break for the whole week of President's Day. This week is always where Brady's birthday falls. When he turns 6 in 2016, less than 21 months from now, we plan to take a trip to Disney World during that break, that also involves a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean! We will have a ton to celebrate on this trip as Brady will turn 6 while we are there, Izzie will be turning 3 soon thereafter (still being free when we are in the parks), and I will be ready to celebrate my (gulp) 30th birthday. I look forward to booking the cruise in just nine short months!!!