Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Disney's California Adventure 2014





We spent the second of our three days in the California Adventure park, which has only been open since 2001.  We had a third day and waited until we spent a day in each park to decide which one to go back to.  It was a no brainer.  The Magic Kingdom is pretty much the same everywhere and many of the rides in California Adventure are only there, so we decided to spend our final day doing that park for the second time.  Like the Magic Kingdom, it has a central street, which is Buena Vista street (pictured above) which personifies 1920s Los Angeles.  As you can imagine from the name of the park, it's modeled to give you a taste of all the different aspects of California.  It's a very large state (imagine a single state extending from New York to South Carolina), and has just about every type of landscape the world can offer.  There are parts to reflect the piers on the Pacific, the wharf in San Francisco, the wooded areas of Yosemite and the Redwood Forest, Hollywood, Route 66, and a tribute to the many private pilots throughout California.



That morning, we woke up, bathed the kids, got them dressed, and applied sunscreen.  Izzie is very smart and she knew that was the routine, so she climbed up into her stroller seat and was ready to go.



California Adventure has many unique rides and only a few that are at the Disney World resort in Florida.  The Hollywood Tower of Terror is the most iconic ride the two parks share.  The others that are in both places, started in California and made their way to Florida due to popularity.  Those rides include Toy Story Mania, Ariel's Undersea Adventure, and Soarin' Over California.  So only four rides in the whole park are in both resorts in the United States.  Many locals or those closer to the West Coast prefer the original Disneyland Park.  I saw California Adventure as a breath of fresh air and wanted to soak it all up because we'll like be in Disney World several more times before we make our way back out to California for a family vacation.



We often would split up in groups of two, with one set going to ride a bigger ride with Brady, and the other running to get a fast pass or riding a short wait ride with Izzie.  We use the Photo Pass service, so any time we see a camera, we stop and take full advantage as we pay a flat rate for all the pictures and want to get our money's worth.  Behind Brady and I is the Paradise Pier section of the park.









In the pictures of Brady and I, you could see the giant Ferris Wheel, known as Mickey's Fun Wheel.  It's special because half of the carts are stationary, but the other half are on a metal track and can swing depending on your location of the wheel.  We asked Brady which he would prefer as they had identical waits and he chose swinging.









Andy has the camera again here.  I recently started to notice that I take most of my pictures vertical and he takes his horizontal.  Weird, huh?



When we hit the downward slope, the cage slid down it's track and really swung back and forth.  None of us were expecting it and both kids lost it.  We were so surprised by their reaction that we couldn't stop laughing!



Brady is fearless and if he was tall enough, he rode any ride they had.  There was only one he wasn't tall enough to ride and it was the large white roller coaster pictured in Paradise Pier.  Through Rider Switch, he rode the Hollywood Tower of Terror six times!  Never once a cry or a scream even.









The first day, we happened to walk out of Tower of Terror right as the parade was about to start right there, so we stopped and watched.  It's themed for all the Pixar movies.















The Bug's Life float sprayed water and Andy caught the moment that Brady got sprayed.


















A good portion of both days was spent in Cars Land, modeled for the movie Cars.  It's only been open two years and of course, would be the obvious draw for Brady.  This is something they definitely don't have in Florida and there are so many pictures about that, so it deserves a separate post.



Waiting to get onto King Triton's carousel.  She and I rode Ariel's Undersea Adventure, which portrays every part of the movie, twice that first day, while Andy rode it with her again on the second day.  She's a Ariel fan just like her mom.












The first night, we stayed to watch the World of Color show, which is also a Disneyland exclusive.  If you've ever been to Vegas, think of the fountains of the Bellagio, but with color and projections.  In order to get a good viewing spot, you need to get a fast pass early in the day.  It was really amazing.



Andy took the kids on a ride while I did the big coaster (Andy had already ridden it).






Me on the big coaster.



We have a Disney Visa and that entitles us to perks.  In addition to our "points" paying for all of our park tickets, there is a daily exclusive Meet and Greet at one of the parks in either US resort.  We met with Mickey and Pluto when we did this in Disney World, and this time we got to meet with Minnie.  It also comes with a complementary printed 5x7 of the meeting.





















We walked around the corner after the Meet and Greet and saw a small line forming with a Photo Pass photographer.  This usually means a character is going to be coming soon, so we got in line and then asked the photographer.  It was going to be Sulley from Monsters Inc. and Monsters University (Izzie's first movie in the theatre, and since you asked, Brady's was Toy Story 3, so both kids have Pixar for their first real movies).  While waiting, we noticed the kid (I say kid loosely) in front of us was wearing a Cal band hat.  I nudged Andy and whispered that I wondered if that kid knew Chris as it's a student run organization and Chris is a leader.  Andy, never shy, tapped the kid on the shoulder and asked if he knew him.  Of course he did!  We told him that he's my brother and we had just been at graduation.  He was there with his mom and sister and all of them thought it was too funny.  He took a pic of all of us on his phone and sent a text to Chris.  I don't think Chris would've believed him otherwise.  Sometimes it's a very small world.















On one of our excursions to obtain fast passes, Izzie and I ran into Flight Attendant Minnie!






Sometimes you just get lucky when it comes to characters.  They take frequent breaks and often don't have set spots.  We were just taking a bathroom break when I saw Flick from A Bug's Life walk by and I know enough to follow any character to see where they'll stop.



I forget what I was doing, but Andy ended up with both kids and they happened upon Woody near the Toy Story Mania ride.






On Buena Vista Street, the main Disney Characters wear Old Hollywood garb and we managed to meet up with Goofy in his.









Another carousel ride.  With a wait at 5 minutes most of the day, you can't resist.  We never spent more than 30 minutes in line for anything.






We left a bit before closing as we had a drive south to Carlsbad ahead of us that night, but we headed to Downtown Disney once more to snag some dinner at the ESPN Zone.  On our walk, we saw the Pearl Factory kiosk and stopped to get Izzie her first pearl.  The first time I did this was when I was 14 in the Typhoon Lagoon water park in Disney World, obtaining a large blue pearl, so it only made sense to get Izzie's on Disney property.  Since I started, I've collected many and Andy even had mine set in Hawaii into a hibiscus necklace and earrings (I got twin pearls after spending years keeping the loose pearls trying to get ones to match size and color).






Izzie's pearl!  It looks white, but has a very slight pink tint.





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