Disneyland Birthday Trip: Day 3
Trip day 3 = park day 2, and we were headed straight for Disney California Adventure for the 1st time! I honestly didn’t know if I was more excited for Cars Land or Mission: Breakout, but I know for sure that I was super excited! I’d specifically gotten a World of Color shirt and Fun Wheel ears (check my outfit post for links) just for this trip, and even though we weren’t going to get to see Paradise Pier as it’s meant to be and weren’t going to see World of Color, I still wore my planned outfit.
It was chilly in the morning, so we both wore sweatshirts as we ventured out. We weren’t running as early as we wanted, so we stopped at the La Brea Express side to grab breakfast sandwiches to eat while we were walking. Well, they weren’t as portable as we’d have liked, but they were delicious, so we didn’t mind sitting down for a few minutes to eat them.
It was an overcast Friday morning and it didn’t feel too busy or crowded as we wandered into DCA for the first time. I immediately pulled out my phone to see what our FastPass options were since I know there are more exciting, and probably popular, rides in Disney California Adventure as compared to Disneyland park.
The first thing I was struck with is there isn’t really a major focal point as soon as you walk into the park. I know they took down the hat in Hollywood Studios in Orlando, but there’s still the big Mickey on top of the globe right at the entrance and the Chinese Theater at the end of Hollywood Boulevard. Once you get down the main street (Buena Vista Street) a little bit, Carthay Circle does come into view and it definitely feels like a centerpiece to me. It’s really pretty and some of the trees were still in bloom, so it makes for a pretty picture.
Having no clue where we were or where anything was, we wandered to our left down toward Hollywood Land
We almost immediately discovered there’s a little Monsters, Inc. area! I knew Boo’s door was somewhere, but really didn’t know what to expect.
Of course, I had to get a picture with Boo’s door, and then we realized it was actually a ride (Mike & Sully to the Rescue) and it had a really short wait (I think it was 10 minutes), so we decided to hop on our first ever Disney California Adventure ride! It’s another one of those cute kid rides where you’re in a taxi riding through Monstropolis. Cute, but glad we didn’t wait long for it.
After leaving Hollywood Land, we turned the corner and were in full view of Mission: Breakout!!!
We wandered a bit, got some pictures in front of what we kept referring to as DCA’s version of the old Streets of America from Hollywood Studios, and wandered towards Mission: Breakout so I could take 18 of the exact same picture.
We wandered through Bugs Land (not something I’m interested in – it’s a very kiddie area and I am not into bugs!) and then into Cars Land!
I cannot say enough about Cars Land and I know I will fail at managing to convey how incredible it is. I have truly never felt so immersed in anything, Disney or otherwise. You know Cars is a cartoon as you’re walking down Route 66, but you feel like you’re walking on the set of the movie, that you are walking on the exact road Lightning McQueen repaved, where all the characters went for a cruise. You’re there! I am not a racing fan and I always felt like Cars just wasn’t a movie I’d love, based entirely on my lack of enthusiasm about racing. I’d seen it and liked it, but we re-watched Cars and watched Cars 2 and Cars 3 before our trip, and I’m so glad we did. It really is such a cute movie (Cars 3 is, too. I won’t get into my thoughts on Cars 2…) and having watched it again recently, I felt I had an even greater appreciation for this incredible area.
We saw the wait for Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree was only 20 minutes, so we hopped in line. We met some cool people while we waited and chatted a bit. They were more local to Disneyland and we’re more familiar with Disney World, so we had fun chatting with them about the differences between the two parks. They were also there for a birthday trip (2 days after mine!), so, if you’re reading this, happy belated birthday, Sarah! The ride kind-of reminds me of the scrambler from carnivals I went to as a kid, but this was way cuter and more fun. Mater is just adorable and totally cracks me up, and we had a blast.
The first FastPass we grabbed was Soarin’ (because it was the earliest one we could get), so we wandered from Cars Land over to the Grizzly Peak area. We caught a glimpse of Paradise Pier on our way and I totally decided I wanted to go back right after Soarin’. The CA Soarin’ is the same Soarin’ Around the World we have in FL, but we thought the theming of the California one was way better.
The outside of the building looks like an aircraft hangar and the inside is themed as such. It feels like it fits the ride better than the futuristic version in FL, but futuristic does work with Epcot. Either way, this was nothing different as far as the ride was concerned, so it was just as awesome as Disney World’s. 😃
After Soarin’, it was definitely time for Starbucks. I was disappointed to discover I didn’t love the Disney California Adventure tumbler, but I think my hubby was relieved. 😉 Plus, I bought the Disneyland one and I already have the Epcot one and the Best Day Ever one, and we really don’t have the cabinet space for me to buy 3 mugs on every trip.
We got our drinks and walked back to Paradise Pier / Pixar Pier (we took to just referring to the area as The Pier during our trip since it’s midway between the old and the new and we didn’t know what the correct name was).
The whole pier area is so cute and I would love to see what it looks like without all the construction! There are all sorts of boardwalk style games, rides, and food. We even walked over and waited a couple minutes to ride the Silly Symphony Swings. I always loved the swings ride as a kid, but I forgot how windy it can get – I almost lost my ears!
With all the construction going on in the area, we hoped Toy Story Midway Mania wouldn’t have too much of a wait because it’s the only thing open in the little area it’s in. The time said 30 minutes, so we got in line. I think we waited longer, but it’s all good. I don’t know if it was any different than the Disney World version, but I’ll tell you we had just as much fun! It’d have been more fun if I’d won, tho…
Next I decided I wanted to wander some of the shops, and Ariel’s Undersea Adventures is just off the pier, on the way back towards the front of the park, so we hopped in line for that. It’s been many years since I rode the Ariel ride in Magic Kingdom, so I can’t give you any comparisons, but it was cute and I super love Ariel, so I was a happy lady.
Then it was time for a Churro by Carthay Circle and some shopping before we FINALLY got to our Radiator Springs Racers FastPass!
We were a little early when we got to Cars Land and we found a PhotoPass photographer with no wait, so we took full advantage of that!
He even walked us all the way down the street and took one of my favorite pictures of the trip!
Before the trip, I was told by a good friend that, after riding Radiator Springs Racers, Test Track would never be the same for me. Holy crap was she right!! I, again, find myself almost at a loss for words to express how much I love this! The ride is the perfect blend of Lightning and Sally’s relaxing drive near the beginning of the movie and an exciting race! Our car won and it was just so much fun!! I really don’t think Test Track will ever be the same after this.
By this point in the day, it was already sort-of past lunchtime and we were hungry, so we wandered back over to the pier for the famous Cove Bar! They do not take reservations for this place so you just wait in line outside. They told us it’d be about a 45 minute wait but we only waited 25, so that was pretty awesome.
For drinks, hubby got a Bahama Mama and I had to get the Fun Wheel, off the secret menu.
For lunch, we shared the lobster nachos and tri-tip sliders and it was all absolutely delicious!!
We’d gotten a FastPass for Indiana Jones next, so we headed on over to Disneyland for that. First, tho, we had to take advantage of a photo opportunity as soon as we walked in, right in front of the Disneyland Train Station.
Then we wandered into Adventureland for our 2nd ride on Indy and it may have been even more awesome than the 1st. This time, we took in more of the little details throughout the ride and it’s just so freaking good.
Since we were in Disneyland, I figured it never hurts to have more castle pictures, so we stopped for another photo op. We got to see some of the Pixar Play parade go by as we waited, and that was pretty cute. I’m glad we got to see what we did but I’m also glad we didn’t miss our dinner reservation the day prior to watch the whole thing.
This was yet another moment where I was just so astounded by the enthusiasm of the Disneyland PhotoPass photographers. This wonderful photographer had us do so many different poses, and one of hubby’s absolute favorite pictures of the whole trip is one from this series of photos. ☺️
After our mini-photo shoot in front of the castle, it was back to Disney California Adventure to FINALLY ride Mission: Breakout!!!
Now, this requires a little backstory before I can go further into our day. If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, or if you know me at all, you know that Tower of Terror is my absolute all-time favorite ride ever. Like, I cannot even express how much I love it. Well, in the 6 years we’ve been together and the 3 trips we’ve taken to Disney World together, my husband has always proclaimed he hates ToT and hasn’t gone on it with me. It’s ok, we managed to be there 2 out of 3 trips at the same time my parents were, so I rode it with my dad those times.
Anyway, before this trip, I told my husband I was riding Mission: Breakout no matter what. I didn’t care if I had to ride alone, I wasn’t missing it. He told me he would ride it with me. I was really worried about this because I knew it had been 10 years since he rode ToT and I didn’t want him to feel obligated to ride for me and I didn’t want him to make himself feel crappy just to ride this with me. He was clearly kinda apprehensive after the video, as we were waiting in the queue, and he had me talk him through the chronology of the actual ride part of Tower of Terror. We got in our gantry lift, the car backed up, Rocket unplugged the audio, plugged in Starlord’s Walkman, and we shot up into the air! I was internally super nervous for the hubs because ToT does not shoot you up into the air like that immediately, and I felt him tense next to me as soon as that happened.
So, we got off the ride, and he turned to me and said, “That was awesome!!” and I broke out into the BIGGEST grin because I absolutely LOVED the ride!!!! It was even more amazing that Tower of Terror because of the whole vibe and the story and the music and it was just so freaking amazing. I was so beyond thrilled that he loved it and so was he. We had such a blast and already couldn’t wait to go on it again.
As we were flying on high from our amazing ride, we stumbled onto a Photopass photographer right outside Mission: Breakout with no line. We took some fun pics and had our first magic shot!
We were right next to the Hyperion and saw that the Frozen show started in 5 minutes, so we figured we’d pop in and see it. Well, the show is an hour long and it’s pretty much the entire movie. It was good, but just make sure you can commit the time to it if you decide to go see it.
After the show, we wandered back thru the Monsters, Inc, area and just happened upon a royal guard from Wakanda!
We had another FastPass for Soarin’, and really, there’s never enough Soarin’, so we made our back back to Grizzly Peak for one last ride before our dinner reservation.
Dinner for the evening was at Carthay Circle! This restaurant has been around since 1955 and has a completely seasonal menu, so it changes to accommodate what items are in season.
As I mentioned in last week’s post, I’ve been making meals out of appetizers and sides, so I had a glass of their Pinot Gris and had the Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carthay Spring Salad for my meal and my husband had a Firestone Walker British Pale Ale and the Parmesan Potato Gnocchi! None of the desserts really piqued our interest, so we decided to pass.
I feel like I keep saying things were the thing I was looking forward to most, so let’s just say there were many things I was super looking forward to. One item on that list was seeing Cars Land lit up at night with all the neon lights, and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately, timing didn’t allow for us to actually be there when the lights lit up, but I sorta slowly danced my way down Route 66 with “Life Could Be A Dream” in my head, because I’m a crazy person and it was just so dreamy and fairytale in a completely different way than I typically think about/feel about fairytale and I just loved every minute of all of it.
I took a bunch of pictures and then we had a wonderful PhotoPass photographer take our pictures by Radiator Springs Racers.
Then we strolled our way over to into Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. The wait was like 20 minutes and it was a beautiful night and I just had that super content feeling. Cars Land is dreamy and California weather is dreamy and it was just perfect. 😊
The ride is so cute! It plays Italian music and all the cars “dance” to the song. It was a lot of fun.
As I’ve mentioned, neither my husband or I are big on parades, but I reeeaaallllyyy wanted to see Paint the Night. The struggle I have is that I hate that people camp out like an hour before a parade and, if you don’t, you really don’t have a good chance of getting a good view. But, I also hate wasting time doing that, so we decided to wait until the parade was closer to starting and wandered towards the beginning of the parade route (pier area) in hopes of finding a spot. We ducked off into the Pacific Wharf area to get out of some of the craziness and actually discovered there’s great viewing from over there and it’s not amidst all the madness of the main parade route!
We stood in this little outcropping that looked like a fish basket and we had it all to ourselves!
By the time the parade was over, we were definitely wanting some dessert. Good thing this San Francisco-themed wharf area is true enough to its theme that there’s a Ghirardelli! Hubby stood in line (isn’t he the best??) while I found us a table. I had cookies ‘n cream in a sugar cone and he had a salted caramel sundae.
It was the perfect end to an absolutely amazing day, but by then we were exhausted so we headed back to our hotel for the night.
Check back next week to read about spending my birthday in Disneyland and Disney California Adventure!