Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Always Better on Holiday VI, pt. 2: A Friday in Anaheim

Here you see Rebekah and I on the Disneyland Resort Tram last Friday. If you don’t know Rebekah in real life, you may know her as the person who’s always complaining in the comments on this blog. One thing she can complain about re: this post is all the pictures of hers I'm using, because they had me in them.

Here I stand in line to buy tickets, giving Rebekah a refresher course on the focusing of my M8.

Clearly she was not the one in need of a refresher course.

Up to this point I was being sneaky by saying that we went to the Disneyland Resort because Rebekah and I did not spend Friday at Disneyland, we spent it at California Adventure, the “new” park in Anaheim that I’ve avoided for over nine years now.

Why, after all this time, did I finally decide to go to California Adventure? Short Answer: Because it’s got the Tower of Terror, and I love the Tower of Terror (which I rode in Tokyo), that’s why.  And also because finally too curious.

Thanks to smart FastPassing, we rode it three times that day:

What I love about the Tower of Terror is that it’s relentless, it feels like it has a personality, a mean personality . . . and by “mean” I mean “fun” because I find myself hooting and hollering as it drops me and lifts me and drops me and lifts me so, er, relentlessly every single time. I think it’s the grown-up equivalent of taking a bouncy ride on your father’s knee.

And did we do anything else Friday? Sure did. The first ride we rode was the much-beloved by many Soarin’ Over California. I was too distracted by the feet dangling above me to fully immerse myself in this immersive journey.

Remember in Return of the Jedi when Luke is hiding from Darth Vader during their final lightsaber duel?

The Friday after Veteran’s Day was maybe not the best day to visit California Adventure. Crowds were oppressive at this park I’d been told could be conquered in half a day. Before lunch we were only able to ride Soarin’ and have our first Tower of Terror ride. We escaped the C.A. crowds and lunched in Downtown Disney.

I enhanced my salad with the last of the Cheez-Its I had brought along to the park with me.

Before heading to California Screamin’ we checked on the Hollywood Backlot part of California Adventure where we went to the Turtle Talk with Crush show

And then admired the amazing Toy Story Zoetrope.

Then we Fastpassed our way onto California Screamin’, an excellent honest to goodness roller coaster with a loop and everything.

Look at all these suckers without Fastpasses!

Then it was time to try Toy Story Midway Mania. This ride did not have a Fastpass and this ride really needed a Fastpass. So instead of Fastpassin’, we waited in an old-school super-long Disney line like from my youth. Well over an hour wait we had, but I think shorter than an hour and a half.

At least there was a churro stand nearby.

What I’m doing here is I’m supposed to be playing the churro like a flute, or clarinet. But who pretends to play a clarinet?

And is any ride worth an hour and a half wait? Not really, but I loved Midway Mania. It is basically a 3D videogame that you roll around in, shooting at targets, it’s super fun.

I won a beaver!

I’m not as accurate a shot as Rebekah, that’s because I shoot like crazy at the high point targets.

Then we went on the big Coney Island style ferris wheel. Probably the park’s scariest ride as the gondolas slide around on little tracks. There is a feeling of possible death, you had to be there.
But there is also a feeling of admiring the view and making acquaintances with strangers that share your ride. And your moments of terror-filled panic.

We went on this Jellyfish Jumper ride. It’s like super junior Tower of Terror. A misunderstanding is what led us to ride it. It was a kid’s ride. (But one kids ride we rode not at all on accident was the Bug's Life caterpillar train ride because I thought his voice sounded so funny whenever we walked by it.)

There’s a lot of construction going on at California Adventure as they add new attractions to transform it into a park that someone would actually be super-excited to go to. But can these new attractions truly be said to be worth it if they keep me from getting corn dogs in 2010?

As the sun sets, the pierside areas of the park turn rather nice to look at.

We didn’t even consider riding the Grizzly Bear Rapids ride where you get soaked. Maybe in 2013 when all those other rides are open and it’s sunny and hot and I’m not carrying so much electronics.

Rides number two and three of Tower of Terror occurred during the evening hours.

Dinnered at a burger place. With access to the toppings of my choice and plenty of mayonnaise I was able to whip up something I actually found to be quite tasty.  And the establishment was also able to help me out with a milkshake craving I had developed during my day at the park.

In connection to the upcoming Tron Legacy film they turn the Hollywood Backlot area into “ElecTRONica” at night—it’s a dance party/movie commercial/videogaming opportunity that I think is a good use of a corner of the park that would otherwise be totally ignored during the night time hours.

They’ve got a replica of Flynn’s Arcade back there full of an incredible collection of 80’s arcade games, real and fake.


And on the Hollywood Backlot there’s this unpopular Monster, Inc. dark ride that used to be a super-unpopular Hollywood Limosine ride. It was fine, but the size of the line area (empty) was depressing.

Night time: a return to the pier.

At King Triton's carousel* Bek rode an otter.

*So King Triton has a carousel at California Adventure and King Arthur has one at Disneyland.  Only kings get carousels.

I rode a whale!

That kid on the left?  I kept running into him that evening, he was always zappin' me.  Wasn't until now that I noticed the matching Buzz Lightyear shirts.

There’s this show there now at night called World of Color. It seemed neat, but seemed like a better time to try to ride Midway Madness again . . . the line was definitely shorter, weighing in at maybe 45 minutes?

Scores improved, accuracy declined.

Final attraction of the night: the tortilla factory tour.

Did I forget to mention that we met up with some of Bek's friends during the evening?  Consider it mentioned now.

What was it that Kate Moss said? “Nothing tastes as good as free feels?” I think that was it.

Goodbye California Adventure,

I'll miss you the most, Santa Paws.

Footnote: Walking to the gigantic parking garage we realized neither of had paid any attention to where we parked that morning. No attention was paid at all! Answer turned out to be: Goofy Level, Row 7.

Closing Thoughts: I don’t think California Adventure is such a bad place, it’d be really fun to visit on an empty day. It’s definitely not as magical as Disneyland, but there’s fun to be had all over the park and I like that it’s smaller—we were constantly walking from one side to the other like it wasn’t any big deal, but try just sauntering over from Splash Mountain to Space Mountain. Can’t be done. In a few years when all the new rides and renovations are done it will probably be a total blast and as of right now I can recommend Toy Story Midway Mania as one of my favorite Disney rides of all time. AND I just learned from the internet that they’re building a Midway Mania at DisneySea—couple that with their slightly more spectacular version of the Tower of Terror and you’ve got a Disney park I’m dying to get back to.
Oh, and I’m still working on the post about my trip to Disneyland with my family this summer, if you were wondering.


Bek said...

i love us. how's that for complaining?

Jennie said...

I was in panic mode on those swinging ferris wheel cars, trying to keep my screams sort of controlled so my 4 year old wouldn't freak out. By far the scariest ride in the park.

Casey said...

Brigham, you need to check out Ridemax for your next trip to Disneyland/California Adventure. Some family decided to observe all the lines and time the waits and then create algorithms to tell you the best way to attack the park/parks. My first time at Disneyland/CA was about two years ago and we managed to hit all the major rides at both parks. Never waited in line more than 20 minutes.

Interestingly for your blog...word verification: ulices (ulysses)