Plan: Disney California Adventure Park; Fantasmic Premium Viewing for Patty, Jason and Sandy
In spite of going to bed so late, I woke up at 4:30am and was unable to go back to sleep. Finally at 5:25am I got up. I quickly showered and dressed, then texted Jason to see if he wanted to come over. He was over immediately with his laptop and started working on his trip report. I checked my email.
Since today was a Magic Morning at Disneyland, we planned to start the day at DCA. Only Sandy, Matthew and Samantha are able to take advantage of Magic Morning and they planned to use theirs on Thursday. We planned to meet at the turnstiles to DCA at 9:15am. Jason and I decided to head over early and spend some time at Disneyland before meeting up with the others. We left the hotel at 7:05am and decided to try the new Toy Story lot. We were surprised and disappointed to find it closed. I had heard good things about it and was anxious to give it a try. So we backtracked and parked in the Mickey and Friends structure. Since we were so early, we found a great spot in the Chip and Dale area very close to the walkway.
We boarded the next tram that pulled up and were soon through Security. Our first stop was Guest Services where I picked up our Fantasmic tickets for this evening and the Segway tickets for Tuesday. We still had 15 minutes until park opening so instead of lining up at the first turnstile we came across, like almost everyone else, we checked the length of the other lines and found a much shorter one in the middle.
At park opening, instead of racing to an attraction, we stopped at one of our favorite spots in the park, the Market House. We both got cups of vanilla coffee and a cookie, white chocolate chip for Jason, Mickey-shaped sugar cookie for me. This brought us over the $10 mark so we were able to get a 10% AP merchandise discount.
We took our coffee and cookies and headed back to Town Square where we found an empty bench near the center of the square. The day was overcast and cool and the park didn’t seem particularly crowded. We were speculating that since it was Father’s Day, maybe Dads wanted to spend it on the couch at home rather than head to the parks.
We had a great time just watching the characters interact with the guests and enjoying the atmosphere. At one point, Pluto came by on his way to his meet ‘n greet spot. Since the line to see him was very short, we hopped in and had the cast member take our picture. We also had the PhotoPass photographer take our picture in front of the big “You’re Invited” invitation with the balloons. He took one with Jason’s camera and then took several of us with his camera, posing us in certain ways that I’m guessing will include some special effects when we check the pictures online.
It was nearly time for us to head over to DCA so we finished our coffee and made a quick stop at City Hall for two birthday buttons, two graduation buttons, and three “Just Celebrating” buttons.
We lined up at DCA right behind the letter “N.” We texted our location to the others and they responded that they were just getting parked. At 9:15am they arrived and joined us. I wished Dad a Happy Father’s Day. I’ve never seen such lines to get into DCA. Many of the people in line were there to get FastPasses for World of Color.
When the turnstiles opened at 9:30am, we headed immediately over to Soarin’ to get FastPasses for later. Samantha and I had problems with the FastPass machine. We put in our tickets but nothing came out. When we tried another machine, it said that we already had a valid FastPass. There wasn’t a CM at the FastPass machine so we went to tell the CM at the entrance to Soarin’. He ended up writing us a manual FastPass.
We could see the line for the World of Color FastPasses extending around from Grizzly River Run all the way to Sunshine Plaza as we made our way to the rope near A Bug’s Land.
At 10:00am the park opened and we walked back to Toy Story Mania. We had agreed ahead of time that people should walk at his or her own pace, but wait at the entrance to the ride until everyone arrived. It’s a pet peeve of ours when a few members of a party enter the queue and then assume that it’s okay for the rest of the party to cut through the line to catch up.
We arrived at Toy Story Mainia to find that it was closed and of course the cast members couldn’t commit to a time when it would be open. After a quick re-evaluation of our plans, Matthew and Samantha went to ride California Screamin’, Dad, Jason and I went to ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Sandy wandered around Paradise Pier, and Mom held her #1 spot in line for Toy Story.
While on the Fun Wheel, I scoped out the viewing area for World of Color and thanks to the many posts on MousePlanet, I was able to see where the dining package viewing area was and where I thought we might want to line up.
Afterwards, we met up near Toy Story, which was still down. It’s such a long walk back to this area that I really wanted to do everything we planned to do here before heading to another part of the park. We were trying to decide what to do next when Toy Story opened and we quickly got into line. Two lines had formed in either direction so it was slow going while the two lines were merged at the ride entrance. Once we actually entered the queue, the line moved fairly quickly. We probably waited 15 minutes. It was a very fun ride and we enjoyed seeing the new game that was added recently.
We had planned to pick up FastPasses for Grizzly River Run so we could all ride together, but with the FastPass machines being used for World of Color, we decided that those of us that wished to ride would use the single rider line.
But first it was time for lunch at Taste Pilot’s Grill. Four of us went to find a table, while three of us stood in line to order. It was around 11:30am and there was no line to order and plenty of tables available. Jason and I decided to split a Chase Pilot’s Cheeseburger. It came with fries, although not the criss-cut fries they used to serve. I took the burger up to the toppings bar and loaded us up with lettuce and tomatoes. It was plenty of food for the two of us and ended up being wise decision as everyone else ordered their own meal and ended up leaving at least some of it on their plates.
After lunch we used our FastPasses for Soarin’. Since this was Sandy’s first time on the ride, Jason asked if we could wait for section B2, which is the middle row of the center section. I know many people like to be in the top row of the center section, but we like the middle row because you don’t see the curved top of the screen. We don’t mind the row of feet above us. Sandy absolutely loved Soarin’, which I was glad about because it’s my favorite DCA ride too.
Next up was Grizzly River Run. Five of us were doing this attraction. Dad and Jason were sitting it out. Neither of them wanted to get wet and they wanted to be able to take pictures of us on the ride. We handed our stuff over to them and they put it in a locker for us. After picking up our single rider passes from the CM at the standby entrance, we went in through the exit. There wasn’t anyone waiting in front of us and I barely had time to pull on my poncho before Mom and I were assigned to the same raft. Matthew and Sandy were able to ride together and Samantha rode by herself. Mom and I stayed fairly dry with our ponchos. The others were wet, but not soaked.
By now it was around 2:00pm and Jason and I planned to head back to the hotel to rest. Sandy wanted to look around DCA a bit first since it was her first time in this park and then she would walk back to her hotel. Mom wanted to go over to Disneyland and ride Buzz. Dad, Samantha and Matthew went their separate ways.
Jason and I retrieved the car from the Mickey and Friends structure and drove back to HoJo’s. On the way, Jason suggested half-jokingly that we should stop in at Mimi’s for dessert. I thought that sounded like a great idea so we pulled in and were seated quickly. We decided to split the Triple Chocolate Brownie, which consists of two large triangles of brownies and several scoops of ice cream topped with caramel and fudge sauce and whipped cream. It was so huge that even with two of us working on it we weren’t able to finish it. We also order iced tea and were both so thirsty that we just guzzled the first glass. Our server was Gina, and she was super friendly. She quickly refilled our glasses and then as we were getting ready to leave, she offered us refills of the tea in a to-go cup. The dessert was $4.99, which we felt was a bargain considering it could easily feed three people.
Back at the hotel, we parted ways and went to our rooms to rest. I dozed for about 20 minutes and then was woken up by the sound of people talking loudly in the hallway. Then I heard doors slamming, which shook the entire building. After about 10 minutes of this, I gave up resting and texted Jason that he could come over if he wanted. He was over in a few minutes with his laptop and worked on his trip report.
Looking at the bottom of the Mimi’s receipt, I noticed an invitation to complete an online survey in exchange for a free 4-pack of muffins. I completed the survey, which was fairly lengthy and wrote down the code for the free muffins. These will be great to have in the mornings in the room.
Around 5:15pm we started getting ready to head back to Disneyland for the Fantasmic! premium seating. Sandy had texted earlier to ask if we could pick her up on the way since she had decided to head back to her hotel for a rest. We texted her that we were on our way so she could be waiting for us outside her building. It was a short drive down Harbor to her hotel.
We decided to try the Toy Story lot again and this time it was open. I asked the CM at the booth what time they generally opened, and he replied that today they opened at 10:30am. We were directed to a disabled spot that was super close to the loading area. I think we were only three parking spaces away. As we stepped up to the loading area, a bus across the way finished loading people up and drove around to pick us up. The bus was only partially full so we had no problem finding seats. It was a short, air-conditioned drive over to the resort. We were dropped off very close to security. All in all it was a very pleasant experience and involved much less walking than parking in the Mickey and Friends structure. I only hope the return trip is as easy at the end of the evening.
The plan was for everyone to meet up at 6:20pm at Coke Corner. When the three of us arrived we found Dad, Matthew and Samantha waiting for us. We all sat there for awhile chatting and then the three of them left the park to meet up with Mom and have dinner at Coco’s on Harbor.
Once they left, we decided to eat dinner at Coke Corner. Jason saved our table while Sandy and I picked up hot dogs and chips. While we ate we watched the afternoon parade and were all very unimpressed with it.
At 7:00pm we walked over to New Orleans Square to check things out for Fantasmic! The podium was out and there were a couple of CM’s there, but they weren’t checking people in until 8:00pm. She said we could line up if we wanted. We found a spot on the wall to sit and wait. It was nice to just sit there and check out our surroundings. There was a protein spill across the way from us and we watched two custodial CM’s clean it up, though it did make us slightly queasy to watch.
Gradually, the line to check in got longer and longer. Promptly at 8:00am, the CM motioned to us that we could check in. When Jason and I did this in February of 2009, we weren’t anywhere near the front of the line, so by the time our turn came to check in, the CM let us choose where we wanted to sit from the remaining available seats. This time, since we were first, we were assigned seats 1 through 3, which was the front row of the far right hand section (if you’re facing the stage) of the seating area, making us front and center for the show.
Once we checked in, we were told to come back at 8:30pm to be seated. With some time on our hands, we decided to do Haunted Mansion, which had zero wait time. We just walked right in and were out by 8:07am. I don’t think I’ve ever done Haunted Mansion so quickly. Next we walked around to ride Winnie the Pooh, but it was closed for technical difficulties. We wandered slowly back, walking along the little path that runs behind the Harbour Galley to see where the Splash Mountain logs go after the big drop.
After a restroom stop, it was time to report back for Fantasmic! We were seated promptly and a very friendly CM handed us our dessert boxes and took our drink orders. She recommended moving the grapes from their spot in the dessert box and using that compartment for a beverage holder. Sandy had coffee, while Jason and I both had hot chocolate. The temperature was definitely cooling off. Sandy had a sweatshirt, but Jason and I absolutely refuse to bring any type of jacket or sweatshirt to Southern California during the summer months. One thing we really like about Southern California is that the temperature peaks early in the afternoon and begins to cool off in the late afternoon and early evening. In Oregon we may not have much in the way of summer, but when we do have a spell of warm weather, the temperature doesn’t peak until 5:00 or 6:00pm, and often takes until late evening to cool off to a comfortable level.
We munched on our dessert boxes until we felt ill, and then decided to save the rest for later. At 9:00pm Fantasmic! started and it was as wonderful as always. I never wanted it to end. I love the soundtrack and listen to it often on my iPod. My favorite part is the end when the Mark Twain comes around with all the characters waving. It brings tears to my eyes. This was Sandy’s first time seeing it and she loved it too.
When Fantasmic! ended we waited a few minutes and then the fireworks began. This was our first time seeing Magical and while we did have an okay view, I do want to see them from in front of the castle. Seeing Dumbo flying around was amazing.
After the fireworks ended, we slowly made our way out of New Orleans Square. We decided to exit via Frontierland since Adventureland gets so congested. The CM’s doing crowd control let us through to Frontierland, but directed everyone behind us to Adventureland. We were confused about this until we saw the huge crowd of people waiting to get in to the second showing of Fantasmic!. We made our way passed the Golden Horseshoe just as the crowd was unleashed. I would have hated to been caught in that stampede.
We slowly made our way up Main Street and out of the park. As we approached the pick-up area for the Toy Story shuttle, we could see a roped queue, but people were moving through quickly. When we reached a CM, he was counting off people and assigning them to a numbered zone. We were assigned to zone 2. Within one minute of reaching the zone, a bus pulled up and we all hopped aboard. It was another comfortable ride back to the parking lot. The bus dropped us off at the same point it picked us up and we were out of there within two minutes. I am definitely sold on this parking lot. It was fast and convenient. If only it would open up first thing in the morning.
We dropped Sandy off and headed for our hotel. Jason worked on his trip report while I transferred pictures from my camera to my laptop. After plugging in the various electronic devices to charge, I was ready for bed. It was lights out at 11:30am.
Summary: Today seemed very long but we enjoyed every minute. We seemed to pack so much into the day that at times Jason and I would look at each other and say, “Is this really just our first day?” I hope the rest of the trip goes by just as slowly. I don’t want it to zip by. It was fun doing things with Sandy for the first time and seeing her reactions.