Disneyland California and West Coast Trip Reports Trip Reports

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Old 3 Apr 24, 04:33 PM  
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Travelling From Coast To Coast August 2023: Day 11 - Disneyland and California Adventure

Day 11: Thursday 17th August 2023

This morning we were rope-dropping Disneyland park. I think the park must have been opening at 8 am. By the time we were all ready and out of the door, we were a little behind schedule. It was definitely easier to get out of the door and into the parks for opening when the girls were younger. Freya is most certainly not a morning person and we always end up waiting for both girls as they don’t want to get up and then they take their time doing make-up etc. Mat and I used some of that time today treating and dressing my foot and ankle. As I said yesterday, once the nurse had put the dressing on it at DCA, I didn’t look at it again for at least a week. I’m squeamish anyway but my family’s faces and ‘ugh’ reactions when it was exposed meant I think I made the right decision. (Trigger warning: injury detail) As time went on, Mat would describe the wound in terms of looking like different meats. Today, I believe it looked like salami and we hadn’t quite reached pepperoni. So yeah, I definitely averted my eyes when the skin was exposed. It was also pretty painful whenever it was being treated and I would usually have to grab onto one of the girls’ hands for support because I am a big wimp.

We must have set off just before 8 am as we got into the park about 8.15 am. Once in the parks I checked the wait times on the Disneyland app. Indiana Jones was at 20 minutes so we headed over and waited less than 10.

It was most definitely a more enjoyable queuing experience than the previous night. We got the back row and decided it was preferable sitting there than further forward in the vehicle. It’s more bumpy and we could see the big sets and the boulder etc. better.

As we were exiting, Indiana Jones came around the corner of the cave and said ‘Did we make it out okay folks?’ The girls and I all just kind of jumped and looked dumbstruck as it was quite the surprise. Plus the girls were drooling over him.

We decided to do Fantasyland next as I’d seen the advice in YouTube videos from Mammoth Club and AllEars that rope dropping Fantasyland is a good idea. Those rides don’t have Genie+ and tend to get very long lines later on in the day. I guess it’s like in Magic Kingdom, but at least there you can use Genie+ to avoid the waits if you so wish which I do not, being anti-Genie+. You can also get through quite a few Fantasyland rides pretty quickly first thing with the low waits, short ride experiences and the fact that they’re all pretty close to each other. However, as we passed Big Thunder Mountain, it was posting a 10 minute wait so we decided to do it. So much for prioritising non-Magic Kingdom rides.

The line was moving quickly until we got to the loading platform and the left train broke down. The Cast Members had to move all the gathered queue on the left over to the right loading bays. I think there was also a whole train of evacuated people they took back to the loading area ahead of us so those two extra trains of people plus running at half capacity meant our wait became 20 minutes. Still, 20 minute waits are a lot less common than they used to be at Disney with increased crowds and the irritant that is Genie+ so no complaints here.

CMs weren’t taking row requests because of the problems (we always politely ask for the back and have always been accommodated) but we got rows 12 and 13 anyway so yay.

I’m not a huge Big Thunder fan as it’s just a bit too tame for the hype I think (unless it’s back row in the dark, then I’m a massive fan) but I enjoyed it today. The rest of my family is too scared to put their hands up on this one which makes me laugh as they’re all much braver than me with rides. I think part of Seren’s concern comes from the first time she rode it. It was the Disneyland Paris one (now that’s an amazing ride) and she was four. Being so small, she started slipping down the seat under the lap bar and I had to hoist her back up which was a bit scary. I’m not surprised that for newer rides like Slinky Dog Dash and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Disney have used individual lap bars that come down tighter on small children.

Next was Alice In Wonderland which was posted at 20 minutes but was more like 5.

I absolutely loved it. In fact we all did and we all declared it the best Fantasyland ride. What’s lovely about Disneyland, particularly in Fantasyland, is that parts of the rides and / or loading areas are often outside. It somehow makes them feel more magical in my opinion. It’s a reminder of Southern California’s traditionally temperate weather and the contrast with Orlando’s climate. Although, I’m guessing Anaheim’s weather in 1955 was more consistently temperate than it is now because of climate change. We were experiencing quite the heatwave with it being mid 30s for about a week or so, and (spoiler alert) Hurricane Hilary was on its way this weekend, about to drop torrential rain in the area.

We were going to do Mr Toad’s Wild Ride next but it was down. Instead we did Snow White’s Enchanted Wish which was posted 10 minutes and we were on within 5.

This ride was also really good. It's been a long time since the old Snow Ride ride was in Magic Kingdom and we hadn’t ridden the Paris equivalent for four years either. Very cute. Freya used to be so scared of the witch in the Magic Kingdom and Paris versions that a couple of times CMs gave her a flashlight at loading to help her be less scared. I hadn’t realised until I just googled that Snow White’s Scary Adventures in Magic Kingdom closed in May 2012 so it was only there for the girls’ first ever trip at Easter that year.

Next we went to Galactic Grill for breakfast. There is a really nice, chill big seating area with plenty of shade at the restaurant, which we found to be the case with a lot of the restaurants at both parks. It struck us as a big difference between here and most of the Disney World parks. There was always plenty of space to have a nice sit down in a quiet area away from other people, and we didn’t need to feel guilty taking up space even if we weren’t buying food because there were always multiple available tables for those looking to sit down and eat the food they’d purchased. It was worlds away from the likes of Casey’s Corner, Woody’s Lunch Box or Satu’li Canteen where there are usually people hovering with a tray of food that’s getting cold and no available tables. It’s definitely another example of how Disneyland feels more chill, more accommodating and more beautiful for the sake of it than Walt Disney World. At Magic Kingdom they’ve apparently taken some bench seating away, at Disneyland they have huge, pretty, shaded seating areas.

Disney duck:

Mat and I got the Impossible Breakfast Bowl which was okay. It wasn’t very hot and didn’t have much in the way of tater tots so that was a thumbs down from me.

Since we visited, they’ve now replaced the vegan breakfast bowl with a burrito which isn’t an upgrade in my books as I don’t like eating gluten in the form of bread, but if it’s higher quality and better prepared then I guess it’s generally an improvement. Freya had French toast sticks which she loved but these have also since been replaced by funnel cake fries which sounds even less healthy.

Seren had gone to the counter with Mat to check the allergens and was told the Impossible Bowl wasn’t safe for Seren as it wasn’t on the allergy menu. Obviously it’s important for Disney to err on the side of caution with allergies but from previous experience in places like Docking Bay 7, the problem seems to be with products like Impossible meat and Just Egg, and maybe the tater tots and vegan cheese too, which are brought in from another company so they can’t guarantee them allergen free. It can be difficult for Seren to eat in certain restaurants for this reason as her options are often extremely limited being vegan with a nut allergy. She was, shall we say, frustrated by this this morning as she was hungry.

We were in a bit of a pickle as I was having problems with my injury. I was struggling to walk, which wasn’t ideal as we needed to find something else for Seren to have for breakfast. It was already about 9.40 am by this point. If you recall in yesterday’s report, the nurse at DCA had suggested I switch from my sandals to trainers to help my injury. I guess the idea was more cushioning and support was a good thing. This was absolutely not the case in practice, as by this point, my sock had stuck to my plaster and it was oozing (sorry I know it’s TMI). I needed to get a new dressing and my sandals back on to be able to get moving again. This was when we became aware that our hotel being a 16 minute walk from the front of the park wasn’t ideal. As I said in yesterday’s report, we’re usually fine with a walk but my injury complicated things. We decided that Mat would go back to the hotel and get my sandals plus a spare dressing. Meanwhile, the girls would head over to Galaxy’s Edge and get Seren a vegan Ronto-less Wrap.

It took Mat around about an hour to get to the park exit, walk back to the hotel, collect my stuff, walk back, go through security again, go through the turnstiles again and get back to Galactic Grill. I am not a very patient person and do not like sitting around for very long. I was therefore feeling frustrated and a bit sorry for myself while sitting there by myself for around an hour. This was probably the lowest point of my injury. I’ve always said I’m a Theme Park Commando and our trips would be like boot camp even when the girls were young. I grew up like that as my dad ran our Disney trips in the same way; always got to be doing something and hitting rides all day. Over the years as we’ve been to Disney World more and more and don’t need to do everything each trip, I have become a lot better at being able to relax in the parks and just do the things we want to do. But with Disneyland being new to us, and knowing I couldn’t go at full-steam now, I was feeling frustrated as there was so much we wanted to see and do. I will say that after I got my dressing changed and my sandals on today when Mat got back, things steadily improved. For the first few days, I would randomly get severe shooting pains around the injury site which was not fun but after that, it would only hurt when it was being treated or if something bumped it.

While Mat was gone, the girls returned and told me the CMs at Ronto Roasters also wouldn’t let Seren have the Ronto-less Wrap as it’s not on the allergy menu. In Disneyland they don’t offer the vegan version of the breakfast wrap, but Seren has had both the breakfast and lunch / dinner versions at Disney World many times. She wasn’t very happy about two failed attempts to get breakfast but I think in the end as it wouldn’t be long until lunch now, she just got some popcorn or an apple or something from somewhere to tide herself over until lunch. They came back to fill me in on what had happened and so Seren could finish her snack, and then they went off again to ride the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. There was no point in all of us missing out on rides because of my stupid foot, and they’d thought it looked interesting as they’d passed it. The posted wait was only five minutes, but they ended up waiting a lot longer than that in reality. They enjoyed it though.

Eventually, we had regrouped, my foot was all patched up and my sandals were on. We were therefore able to move away from Galactic Grill. I had been sitting there for at least 90 minutes but probably closer to two hours. We took a little diversion to the First Aid office to collect a couple more large dressings. Mat had been to the local Walgreens near Disneyland while he was out of the park this morning and bought some but we were worried they wouldn’t last if we kept needing to change it every couple of hours and didn’t want to get caught short in the parks.

Seren bought a frozen Minute Maid lemonade ice cream thing from a cart after we finished at First Aid. We then headed towards Fantasyland again but wandered straight into a pixie dust moment that was a definite highlight of our time at Disneyland. As we got to the castle, Seren and I took a few photos.

Just then, the Disneyland Band emerged from the castle out onto the forecourt so we watched them for a second, while Mat and Freya went to sit on a shady bench just inside the castle.

Continued below...
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Old 3 Apr 24, 04:35 PM  
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As we turned around to move on, we witnessed Daisy, Pluto, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Minnie and Mickey all heading straight towards us as they were using this path to enter the castle and follow the band.

They all waved and greeted us and walked right by us.

Seren always cries when she meets Mickey Mouse and with it being such a lovely unexpected moment, we were both emotional.

The seven characters then walked right by the bench Mat and Freya were sitting on in the side entrance to the castle so he managed to get a great video of them all approaching and greeting them too. The whole thing was such a lovely, special moment and left us on a high.

We took some photos at the Snow White Grotto.

And then I took a photo of the yeti roastie toastie because what a legend. Shame it’s such a terrible photo.

Next up we decided to ride It’s A Small World which had a posted wait of 5 minutes even though it was now midday.

It was a walk-on. Disneyland’s It’s A Small World is far superior in my opinion to the Magic Kingdom and Paris equivalents because of the character dolls and we loved spotting them during the ride. We’ve always been Small World fans and this version was super cute and that bit more fun with the added characters.

After Small World, we rode Mr Toad’s Wild Ride which was posted at 10 minutes and ended up being pretty much a walk-on.

Another great ride although I had forgotten just how dark it is theme wise. Brillant.

It was now about 12.30. Seren wanted to meet Mickey Mouse and meeting characters is a no-go for Freya unless it’s a character meal and there is therefore food involved. So we decided to split up because Freya was hungry. Mat and Seren went off to meet the main man (mouse) in his house in Toontown and Freya and I headed to Cafe Daisy (also in Toontown) as I knew they had mini kids’ pizzas. I had suggested we go there and Freya was fully on board.

At Cafe Daisy we ordered the kids’ cheese pizza which came with a Cuties mandarin orange, an apple sauce pouch and a small drink (we got Dasani.) Unfortunately the cheese pizza option is no longer on the menu, only pepperoni, so good to know Disney are doing a good job of catering for the 22% of the world’s population who are vegetarian. Current prices for the kids’ pizza meal is $7.99 so not bad in comparison to adult food prices at Disney. We should definitely try and order more kids’ food in the parks but they very rarely have a vegan option, or as the update at Cafe Daisy shows, even a vegetarian option.

I also got two Diet Cokes as we were super thirsty and it was about a million degrees (I exaggerate but it was definitely coming up on 100 degrees.)

There are some benches in Toontown around the cute (fake) grassy area but the shady ones were mostly all taken. We managed to grab a half shaded one. Freya ate the pizza and the Cutie and we watched a few children play the lawn games CMs had set up.

Continued below...
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Old 3 Apr 24, 04:41 PM  
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There can’t have been much of a wait for Mickey as Mat and Seren joined us about 20 minutes after we first entered Toontown.

We gifted Seren the apple sauce which she was over the moon about, and the three of us who don’t eat like toddlers finished the Diet Cokes between us.

We decided not to ride Runaway Railway while we were here as the line was long. As we’d be able to ride it in Disney World in a couple of weeks, it wasn’t a priority while we were in Anaheim. I know the lines were long at this point and we decided against Roger Rabbit too as the wait was too long. I'm pretty sure we made the decision to head out to California Adventure via Starbucks as the waits were once again not looking as bad over there.

I only have a photo of Seren’s iced vanilla oat latte but Mat and I also got coffees (black americano for me, double espresso for Mat) as we hadn’t had coffee yet today. Actually I’m pretty sure he’d got a coffee in the hotel this morning and I’d possibly had one too. They have Illy pods and even though it was just Nespresso machine equivalent, you still have to pay for the coffees (they do have in room coffee which I think is what he did after today.)

Coffees acquired, we walked across to California Adventure and were once again appreciative of the more relaxed vibe over there. We sat on the ground in the shade and drank our coffees for a bit. You would think I would have given up sitting on the floor in the park after getting runover when I did so the previous day, but once again there was very little in the way of shade where there were available seats, and as I’ve said already, it was flipping hot.

Due to lack of notes and photos, I’m going to suggest that we may have gone on Luigi’s Rollockin’ Roadsters again next because I believe we went on this once per day during our three days here, but it’s possible we did not do it right then and just carried on towards Pixar Pier.

It's probable that the girls went on Incredicoaster after that but I’m not sure what Mat and I did which makes for a very informative trip report.

We definitely had a very randomly timed mid-afternoon lunch after that. My pasta loving family all wanted pasta so we went into Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta and ordered three lots of spaghetti with marinara. I’m pretty sure they had vegan cheese and so we got one with no cheese (Seren), one with regular cheese (Freya) and one with vegan cheese (Mat.)

I don’t like pizza or pasta so wasn’t interested in getting anything from here. Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is like a little food court with one counter for pizza, one for pasta and one for salads and beer. We found a table outside by the little stage where a very loud live band were playing. I loved all of that; the massive outdoor seating area and the live music. It’s a really cute area of the park and the atmosphere with the loud live music was great. As a family we’re obsessed with music so it may not be to everyone’s taste and as I said it was really loud, but for us it was delightful.

I mobile ordered some Impossible Chili Cheese Fries and a Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma from Paradise Garden Grill which is next door to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta. I wasn’t particularly excited about either of these things as I don’t like loaded fries because soggy, and Disney cocktails tend to be watered down, too sweet and full of ice. But I had to eat my words here as the fries were really good and the cocktail was really tasty and strong. Just like pretty much every other counter service item we bought at Disneyland during our trip, annoyingly both of these items have already been discontinued so I won’t be able to enjoy them again this year.

We actually only caught the end of the live music so most of our meal took place in the peace and quiet (unfortunately.)

We walked round to Paradise Wharf / San Fransokyo as there was another cocktail I had on my list to try.

This area was in the process of being transformed from Pacific Wharf to San Fransokyo and during our trip, the recently installed towers at the ‘Golden Gate’ bridge were painted orange. When we first arrived at DCA they had been white.

I picked up the Strawberry Lychee cocktail from Fortune Cookery which wasn’t quite as good as the Grapefruit Mezcal Paloma as it was a bit too sweet for me but it was still nice and strong.

While I drank it we walked round to Mike and Sully To The Rescue. It was about time we rode another ride. The posted wait was 25 minutes.

I think we were on the ride a bit quicker than that. We all really loved Mike and Sully To The Rescue. It was extremely cute. Before the trip we’d been really excited for both this ride and Secret Life Of Pets at Universal Hollywood and while that one was a bit of a disappointment, the Monsters Inc ride lived up to our expectations.

Mat, Seren and I all wanted to do the Animation Academy but Freya wasn’t keen as she’s had a bit of an aversion to the animation classes since she was little. She’s a perfectionist (which she unfortunately gets from me) and gets really stressed when her drawing goes wrong and she can’t start again or use an eraser. So instead of joining us, she stropped off for a little walk while we headed inside the Animation Building.

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Old 3 Apr 24, 04:45 PM  
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Every time I’ve ever seen this building in a YouTube video it’s been completely empty and the vloggers have described it as a bit of a hidden gem where you can chill out without too many other people around. That absolutely wasn’t the case when we walked in as it was packed.

All of the seats in the centre of the main area were completely full with people trying to chill out in the air conditioning, and there was already a long line of people sitting on the floor in the queue for the next animation class.

We got in the line for the Animation Academy and just after we did, Freya walked in the building. She perched on one of the seats but it was all a bit chaotic so she decided to head back outside and wait out there instead. We waited about ten minutes until it was time to enter the Animation Academy. We all (except Freya) always love the drawing classes and today Seren was over the moon as our class would be drawing Stitch who is her absolute favourite Disney character. It was a really good class and I really liked the set-up here. When the animation class moved from Hollywood Studios to Animal Kingdom it was a bit of a downgrade as it’s just kind of stuck in the corner of a big room on random chairs, whereas here it was in a proper theatre style setting so everyone can see really well. The animator was amusing too and we liked that the stage was properly themed and the animator’s sketch was projected on a nice big screen.

Twenty minutes later we met back up with Freya outside and decided to split up again as Freya was desperate to do some rides. The girls went over to Avengers Campus and got in the line for Mission Breakout. They got on at about 6.05 pm so waited about half an hour.

Meanwhile, Mat was really struggling with tiredness and had struggled to stay awake in the Animation Academy which he would usually get involved with. We decided to go to Starbucks so he could get another coffee, but as we started walking over there we came upon Philharmagic. I suggested we go watch that so he could have a nap and he jumped on the opportunity so quickly it was as if I’d offered him a million pounds.

We timed it just right and were sitting down in the theatre a couple of minutes later. Mat immediately fell asleep while I enjoyed the show. I’ve always been a big Philharmagic fan and I think it’s really underrated. I think this was the first time I watched it all the way through since Coco was added, as the previous year in Magic Kingdom I had fallen asleep and missed the Coco section.

After Philharmagic, we went over to Starbucks and I once again was disappointed to find they still didn’t have the California Adventure You Are Here mug. I’d gone into this trip hoping to bring home eight mugs to add to my collection (I have about 50) and only came home with three. When we’d been at Disney World in 2022, I’d managed to get two of the four 50th anniversary ones only, and in 2023 I was hoping to get the new regular designs as I didn’t have any of those (I’d bought the previous regular ones in 2018 or 2019.) But none of the parks had the new designs throughout our trip, or old 50th ones for that matter. And there was nada here in California Adventure. Some of the parks had some sort of Star Wars location one but no thanks. So I only picked up Disneyland, Los Angeles and California during this trip. My Los Angeles one came out of the dishwasher chipped a few months after we got home and I was devastated, but Mat luckily went to LA for work a couple of months ago and replaced it for me.

Mugless, we got a couple of yummy Starbucks tap waters and Mat got his double espresso. We sat on a bench outside Starbucks for a bit and then decided to see if we could get into Carthay Circle Lounge for a drink.

The hostesses were a little snooty but eventually said it would be a 15 minute wait or so which we said would be fine. We sat on a covered bench by the entrance and waited to be called, which did indeed take about 15 minutes.

We really enjoyed Carthay Circle Lounge. We loved the old fashioned, classic, upscale design of the place. I mean we love a good bar anyway so it’s definitely a case of preaching to the choir but it was lovely to sit and relax in such lovely surroundings while the girls had fun on some rides. Even better was that there were three gin and tonics on the cocktail menu (I think we all understand by now that gin and tonic is my drink of choice) and the rest of the cocktail menu was classic cocktails rather than fruity abominations.

Our server Damian was very friendly and professional. I chose the Botanical Gin and Tonic which was Hendricks gin, premium tonic, star anise, cardamom and mint. Mat had the Scotch Mist (Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch with a lemon peel served over crushed ice) which was Walt Disney’s drink of choice. When our drinks arrived, Damian put my glass and the cute little mini carafe-thing of tonic down and said ‘The glass is all gin, you can add as much tonic as you want or not at all.’

The tonic was not fizzy and had a really strong flavour so even when I managed to squeeze a little bit into the glass it didn’t really do much to dilute the strong alcohol flavour. Let’s just say I had to drink it really slowly and add all the tonic bit by bit when it became possible to fit more in.

While we were at Carthay Circle, the girls did Goofy’s Sky School, the Golden Zephyr, Silly Symphony Swings and possibly IncrediCoaster again.

When we finished our drinks, we restroomed at Carthay Circle and had a little nose at the photos on the stairs.

It was about 7.40 pm when we left Carthay Circle. We met up with the girls and all of us walked up to Cars Land.

Continued below...

Edited at 04:58 PM.
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Old 3 Apr 24, 04:46 PM  
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We had Individual Lightning Lanes for Radiator Springs Racers and we were on in about 10 minutes which was a lot quicker than if we had waited in Standby. I’m going to guess the posted wait was between 70 and 90 minutes as that’s what it was pretty much the whole time we were there.

Radiator Springs Racers was just as good the second time around and when I say just as good I mean it was still my favourite ride in California. We were off the ride about 8.20 pm and decided it was time for dinner. The plan was to get burgers from Flo’s V8 Cafe. I can’t remember whether we mobile ordered or just lined up inside but I do remember that it was really busy in there. I think some of the other restaurants in the park closed earlier so those of us wanting a later dinner were pushed towards the fewer available options. Some of the seating was already shut down and every available table was taken so we found an outside table. This was definitely the better option because it was nice and quiet and also we got to see beautiful Cars Land while we ate.

Freya was desperate for a churro while we were waiting for the food so she and I went over to the churro kiosk at Cozy Cone Motel and purchased her a churro with caramel sauce. We took it back to the table and she ate that as her appetiser.

Mat, Seren and I all had Impossible burgers. Seren had hers plain, Mat had it as it came (vegan cheese, lettuce and tomato) and from the photo, I think I had mine just with vegan cheese. They all came with steak fries which were really good.

Freya just had a portion of steak fries after her churro.

Blurry chips:

We finished our meal about 9 pm. We had planned to stay late again either in this park or in Disneyland. I’m not sure now what the closing times for both parks were. I’m going to assume DCA closed at 10 and Disneyland later as that’s what it had been the day before. However, we were all really tired. We’d had a super late night the day before and we were all just in need of our beds. We reasoned that if we got a good rest tonight, it would help us have a more productive last Disneyland day the following day. So we took the walk back to Suncoast Park, got back to the hotel about 20 minutes after we left Flo’s and I’m going to guess we were all in bed around 10 pm.
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