Disneys California Adventure

Disneyland: Day 2

~8:55am – Called into PCH Grill for my breakfast reservation, and am guided over to get my photo with Mickey in front of his lifeguard stand. I was hoping to make “The U” with my hands like last time, but that pose never came up. The frogger asked to me do another pose, but I blanked on how to do it so I look dumb and confused in my photo (see below).

~9:06am – Not 30 seconds after putting my food on the table and sitting down, a sales agent comes to my table, pushes my photo right up to the edge of my plate and starts telling me how much I REALLY want to only spend $36.95 on my “special commemorative photo with Mickey so I can remember this trip with my family for years to come.” That’s great, but my food is getting cold. I ask him to put it on My Disney Experience and he said no “at Disneyland Resort Hotels character photos are linked with the Disney Dining PhotoPass card” (?) so all I had to do was show him that card (which I could buy from him for an additional $39.95) and he’d be glad to process my “once-in-a-lifetime picture” with the great mouse himself.

So in review, in order to actually eat my food and get my photo with Mickey I need to pay for my meal $35 ($42 with tax) plus $39.95 for the photo package PLUS an additional $36.95 for the photo itself. That’s…$111.90… for two glossy 4×7 photos in an equally glossy paperboard frame. Um, no thanks.

~9:18am – Minnie passes by my table, and poses for pictures with the family sitting at the table next to me. Honestly, I’m not here to see her, but she did “kiss” my hair on her way bac towards the stage area.

~9:25am – My favorite Hawaiian alien “dog” comes by my table, which I am overly-excited about as he intentionally walked right past my table on my last visit (I KNOW he saw me because he stopped at the tables to my immediate left and right) but since I’m dining alone and both Mickey and the PhotoPass friends are on “surf break,” I have no-one to take my picture with him (happens to me a lot in Florida too). Eventually, I corral a somewhat reluctant server into taking our pictures, and Stitch leaves to do his hourly “Surf Rock with the Kids” dance in front of Mickey’s backdrop.

~9:38am – I watch Stitch do his dance with maybe a half-dozen kids as I wait for my server to bring my check around. He drops it off at my table just as Daisy who like Minnie “kisses” my hair as I wait for him to return so I can officially start my day.

10:18am – Enter park and head immediately to Soarin’ around the World. I love hearing people complain about the “30-minute wait.” Do you know what you call a “30-minute” wait for Soarin’ at Epcot? A walk on!

11:04am – Speaking of which, I left Soarin’ and literally walked right onto both “Journey of the Little Mermaid” (which is EXACTLY like it’s MK counterpart) and “The Golden Zephyr.” I also got my photo taken in front of Grizzly Peak, and when I told him about what happened earlier, he sent me to “the photo shop on Main Street” to resolve it.

12:03pm – Left “The Golden Zephyr” and went across the pathway to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta where I had the most dried out, disgusting and flat-out inedible “pizza” I’ve had in my life. Seriously, my high school cafeteria could take lessons from whoever made that pie. Yep, $7.95 and I threw it away after three bites.

~1:25pm – Took the wrong path out of Paradise Pier (I was trying to get to Cars Land), but ended up in Carthay Circle instead. That was where I was told they could solve the PhotoPass problems from this morning. It took a while to find it as it was tucked into the back corner of another shop and was only really accessible from a small door next to the lockers (!), but once I explained the problem to the woman at the counter and she was able to do what the sales agent (whose job is to sell photos for as much money as possible) and manager (probably going on what the sales agent was telling him) from this morning couldn’t – in less than 30 seconds!!!

~1:57pm – Leave Photopass shop with printed copy of my photo (I only asked for the digital), and head down the opposite side of the circle towards “Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue” where the greeter noticed I was traveling alone and handed me a yellow card and told me to go “directly through the exit to the right” (same thing that happened to me at Indie yesterday).

~2:19pm – Turtle Talk with Crush (show actually started at 12:38pm, but I wanted to get out of the sun).

~2:56pm – Starbucks break (there’s nothing quite like a cold drink on such a miserably hot day)

~3:45pm – Enter Cars Land and get in the ridiculously short line for “Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree” (which is basically a slow moving whip ride) before skipping the Flying Tires or whatever it is now and headed over to the main attraction: “Radiator Springs Racers!”

~4:01pm – I couldn’t read the sign for the wait on Single Riders and one of the four CMs standing there (a cute boy with blonde hair) told me it was “20 minutes, um, maybe 15” so if you don’t hear from me for a while then you know where to find me…

~4:31pm – Exit RSR and follow the road into A Bug’s Land. Judging by the times on the Disneyland app this shouldn’t take very long – particularly since I couldn’t stand that movie. Ian at Flik’s Flyers however rawr (a trait he shared with Ryan the “grouper” over at RSR).

~5:13pm – Back in Hollywood Land where I am nearly caught in the ropes they were setting up for the afternoon parade.

~5:24pm – Decide not to leave the park immediately and instead ate dinner at the Smokejumpers’ Grill (next to Soarin’ Around the World). I know it’s quick service, but it can’t possibly be worse than the pizza I had for lunch.

~5:47pm – Exit park through the nearby Grand Californian entrance. It’s a bit early to leave the park, but my feet are killing me, my thighs are so red it literally HURTS to walk and most importantly of all I have a recap to write…

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A Lack of Love: Part 1

What do you in Disneyland when you’ve already been to both parks and rode (almost) all the rides? You could try for the rest or do as I did and try to fit as many in-park shows\parades as possible before the parks close!

Unfortunately, I had a slight disadvantage In that overslept and missed the “extra magic hour” for Disneyland (slightly overrated anyway since only certain rides are open), but on the plus side I entered just as they “officially” opened the park.

I did however have a few stops to make before heading off to the shows. The first was Jungle Cruise…which hadn’t opened yet so people were milling about outside the entrance until the “almighty announcement” was made allowing guests to enter the queue area.

It was actually kind of cool being the first riders of the day, it would have been even cooler if the guide was a better actor, but that wasn’t my main problem with this ride experience. No, that was when the dock agent reached out for my hand when I tried exiting the boat.

“Thanks, but I don’t like strangers touching me.”

“Sorry,” she said insincerely before clasping my arm, jerking it upwards throwing me off balance and causing me to nearly fall on my face in front of the all of the other guests. “It’s my job,” she then looks me straight in the eye with an obnoxious smirk, “enjoy the rest of your day at the Disneyland Resort.”

Yes, I was the first guest she dealt with today, but I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable reason for that behavior. Who am I kidding, this is pissing me just writing about it – mostly because she’s correct: if it really is her job than I really CAN’T do anything about it.

If I get mad, I become the bad guy. If I let her go without saying anything she wins by default. Either way, I lose. God only knows what will happen if I ever find myself in a win\win situation.

I dust myself off and remind myself that I’m paying good money to have a good time. Besides, I had to Fantasyland before the rest of the crowds do.

I failed. The lines for both Casey Jr. and the Fantasyland Canal Boats was so long that it extended past their respective queues and into the main walkway obscuring the boundaries of their actual waiting areas. The good news was it made the lines for Mr. Toad, Pinocchio and Snow White seem blissfully short by comparison.

After that brief sojourn, I made my around to Innoventions just to find out I’d just missed the first “ASIMO” show and would have to return in another hour. I went downstairs, crossed the pathway to Tomorrowland Terrace which was still serving breakfast.

I guess I probably should have expected that since it was only 10:38am.

Also, three years as a Drama Critic should have taught me to lower my expectations, but I didn’t. It’s not that the ASIMO show was terrible; it’s just the hokey plot that supposedly glues the show together served as more of an interruption of his slickly polished sales pitch than as a natural part of the show. Being a Drama Critic (even an “unprofessional” one) definitely has its disadvantages sometimes.

I left the park through the main gate, and I was stopped for a hand stamp on the way out. I showed him my 3-day ParkHopper, but the bored teenager said it “didn’t matter” as I couldn’t re-enter the park without it. It didn’t bother me as I wasn’t planning on re-entering the park at that point, but he did seem genuinely disappointed to not stamp my hand.

Honestly, I don’t remember this policy in Florida, but according to Guest Services “it has ALWAYS been our policy at Disney Parks.”

Categories: California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys California Adventure, Disneys Resort Hotels | Leave a comment

A Lack of Love: Part 2

I crossed the plaza separating the two parks and got in line for California Adventure. When I got to the front of the line, the gate agent simply scanned my ParkHopper and let me through. The topic of hand stamps never came up.

I make my way Buena Vista Street noting it was essentially a mirror image of Hollywood Blvd at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida (formerly Disney MGM Studios). I stopped into Fiddler, Fifer and Practical on Carthay Circle for lunch (the only restaurant on Disney property to sell Starbucks coffee) and found a table outside just as the “Five and Dime” jalopy pulled into the circle.

I finished my sandwich and coffee and made my way towards Hollywood Land stopping at both the fanastic Monsters Inc. and the disappointing “Minnie’s Fly Girls’ Charter Airlines” and arrived at Paradise Pier just in time for “Instant Concert: Just Add Water” with the only shade in the immediate area coming from a set of umbrellas near the water. The show itself was a short but fun diversion, and walking up the boardwalk a ways further I quickly ended up in the middle of the equally fun “Phineas & Ferb’s Rock and Roll Dance Party.”

I completed the loop around the pier, and ended up back in Carthay Circle just as the afternoon parade was about to begin. I’m not necessarily the biggest Pixar fan, but this little parade was kind of fun in its own way.

That’s enough for the day so I backtrack to the exit through the Grand California so I could plan the rest of my day. I get to the front of the line and show him my ParkHopper, but the middle aged Asian guy at the turnstile says “You CANNOT leave without a hand stamp,” and then grabs my wrist, jerks it back (I literally thought I was going to crash into the family behind me) and practically jabs his stamp through my hand before finally releasing me.

This is when I go to the Guest Services guy I quoted in the previous post who just looks at me blankly and shrugs. “He’s right,” he said apparently missing (or ignoring) the whole point of my complaint. “All guests must get hand stamps unless they are ‘Annual Pass’ holders.”

The man at the desk was nice enough to smile at me, wish me a good day and politely “remind” me that there were other people in line.

Like at Jungle Cruise earlier in the day, there was nothing I could do to solve the situation (I really hate that helpless, invalidated feeling), and getting upset at all about this slight makes me look like a childish, attention-seeking boor.

Categories: California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys California Adventure, Disneys Resort Hotels | Leave a comment

A Lack of Love: Part 3

I go upstairs to my room, right the first half of this story and then suddenly remembered that it was Valentine’s Day – meaning if I didn’t get dinner soon I wouldn’t get dinner at all. I open my wallet, put the reserve cash in there and stuff it in my pocket before grabbing my room key and phone off the coffee bar counter and heading out to Downtown Disney.

I will say that I was extremely lucky to be able get a “walk-in” table at my first choice of restaurant. I was even luckier since both the food and service were easily the best I’d encountered during my stay on Disney property.

I was going through the crappy Disney Parks app while waiting for my food, and noticed that there was a show starting in 40 minutes in the main park with the nightly parade shortly thereafter.

I didn’t make the first show, but didn’t feel like sitting idly on Main Street USA until the parade started so I headed over to Jungle Cruise. The line took about 15 minutes and the guide was a lot better than the one I had this morning, her jokes were largely the same but her delivery was much more confident. The dock agent (not the same one as earlier) didn’t even look at me when I exited the boat.

Now, it was time to find somewhere to see the parade. There were very spots along Main Street to do so. I would have preferred Frontierland as it is usually less crowded, but they directing all foot traffic down Main Street USA where there was almost no available space to watch it except for one patch near City Hall behind a garbage can with a view partially blocked by a faux- antique lamppost.

The parade itself probably isn’t that bad on most nights, but this wasn’t one of them. Maybe their performers got sick, maybe the navigation systems in the floats was off or maybe someone in their Central Command wasn’t on their game, but the timing was completely off. It seemed as if all of the floats (which looked quite impressive, btw) were trying to avoid running over some invisible marching band.

That was it, day over. The last float pulled into the “unstaging” area and the so-called “almighty voice” declared the park was officially closed. I went back to my room; I had some sleep to catch up on – especially since I was planning on catching the first shuttle back to the airport…

Categories: California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys California Adventure, Disneys Resort Hotels, flying | Leave a comment

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