Trip Reports

Andrew’s September Disneyland Trip Report – Part 4

It’s time to continue the longest 4-day trip report ever!  If you missed parts 1, 2 or 3 then click on those links to catch up.  You can also check out our trip reports page to see other trip reports we’ve done.

After a successful day in California Adventure, it was still relatively early (around 9:30) as the parks were closing pretty early on weekdays during our trip.  With that in mind, we planned to go to Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar after we were done at the parks.  We made the quick walk to the Disneyland Hotel and got in line to enter the bar with a cult-like (a big cult, at this point) following.  The resort was starting to fill up, as many people had checked-in on Thursday for the Half Marathon Weekend.  The line was fairly long but we eventually got in to Trader Sam’s after 45 minutes or so.

Trader Sams_edited-1

Trader Sam’s had been on the top of my Disneyland to-do list for several years.  The destination somehow escaped us on our last trip so I was eagerly awaiting seeing the inside.  I won’t do a review of Trader Sam’s this time around, as I was soaking it in and didn’t want to take pictures.  It also has the feel of a place that shouldn’t be photographed, which I mean as a compliment.  Photos are allowed though, just don’t use the flash.  With all that being said, I’ll write quickly of our experience here.

Trader Sam’s is one of my favorite spots in all of Disneyland.  Sure, the inside is crowded and pretty loud but it is a bar.  The environment is incredible.  The photos and art around the bar provide a wonderful back story and the bartenders and servers do an excellent job of taking you to whatever fantasy world Trader Sam’s is.  The environment in this place is one of the best in the whole resort.  I know many people go to Disneyland with children but, if you can, somehow find a way to make a trip to Trader Sam’s, you won’t regret it.

I ordered a HippopotoMai-Tai and the Pu Pu Platter, which consisted of Wings, Portuguese Sausage, Panko-Crusted Chinese Long Beans, and a delicious Slaw.  Melissa, not being much of a drinker, had one of Sam’s No-Booze Brews.  Which one she had escapes me, but she really liked it.  So, even if you don’t drink at all, this place has options for you.  I liked my Mai-Tai, which came in an awesome souvenir glass that I cherish.  Most alcoholic drinks in Disney Parks aren’t very strong but that’s not the case here.  While these aren’t overly strong, you actually get more of what you pay for. The Pu Pu Platter was also good, especially the long beans and the slaw.  All of the food that went by us also looked good and I wouldn’t hesitate to try most of the items on the menu.

I think it’s a major jump to say that Trader Sam’s environment helped inspire the 60th anniversary entertainment at Disneyland.  But, is it a coincidence that Disney has started focusing on environments that you don’t want to leave (like Cars Land, Trader Sam’s, their new nighttime entertainment, and the soon-to-be Star Wars Land) after Trader Sam’s opened?  Probably not, although Universal’s work on Harry Potter and Cars Land deserve the lions share of the credit.  I could stay in Trader Sam’s for hours and enjoy it and I believe Disney is trying to create new places like this all over their resorts.  Obviously, that is beneficial to us fans.

After our drinks we walked back to our hotel for some much-needed sleep.  We slept in the next morning (me more than Melissa) and took our time getting ready for the day.  We had decided prior to the trip that we wouldn’t go in to the parks this day because we didn’t want to push ourselves much before our race the next day.  We checked out of our hotel in the late morning and dropped our bags off and our next hotel, the Camelot Inn & Suites.  I’ll have a review up shortly on that hotel.  Why did we move mid-trip?  That’s a fair question.  Mainly, so I can come back and write more reviews for people.  Also, Camelot Inn was a bit closer to the parks and we wanted that for the day of our race, and the days after.  We dropped off our bags there and headed over to the Disneyland Hotel for Half Marathon Expo.

RunDisney check in

If you want a detailed version of all our pre-race and race activities, I already have a recap of that.  In short, these events are incredibly well done and organized.  I wasn’t very excited about any of the merchandise they sold at the Expo but it was still fun to be there and feel the anticipation in the air.  We later ate lunch at the Tangora Terrace and then headed to Huntington Beach with some friends.  We make a point of seeing the beach each time we get to Southern California and I’m glad that we do.  It’s nice to have some time to relax on a Disney vacation and there’s no better place to do it than on a beach.

Tangora Terrace outside seating

We turned in moderately early that night as we had an early wake-up call.  As I said in the 10K Report, I was pretty nervous about getting up before 5 AM on the day of our race.  I’m not an early riser and I wasn’t sure how my body would respond.  But, everything was completely fine and the race went well for us.  I look back on that morning and this day more and more fondly.  The sense of accomplishment we had that day was a feeling worth chasing after.  As you probably know since you’re reading a Disney Parks blog, Disney is good at celebrating moments, feats, milestones and accomplishments.  That’s part of what makes runDisney so great.  No one thinks your accomplishment was small or unworthy of praise even if running a 10K (or 5K, for that matter) would be easy for them.  Since I’ve already written about this, I’ll stop rambling and move on.

Cars Land 10K

After we finished our race, and watched a few others finish, we celebrated with breakfast at Steakhouse 55.  We really enjoyed the restaurant and even thought it provided a decent value.  I’ll have a full review soon.  The environment at Steakhouse 55 was fun that morning, as most of the people dining were runners who had just completed their race.  After breakfast we hobbled back to our hotel room and slept for a while.

We were back in the parks around 2 PM and rushed straight to Mickey and the Magical Map.  Like Trader Sam’s, this show had been on our to-do list for a while but something or another always got in the way.  As Cassie has said previously on this blog, Mickey and the Magical Map is absolutely worth seeing.  Driven by its big musical numbers, the show has a palpable energy and leaves everyone smiling.  My favorite ‘scene’ in the show is the King Louie song (surprising, I know).  I thought the King Louie performance was incredible and really livened everything else up.  There were, and still are, rumors that this theater would go away with all of the changes coming to Disneyland.  If the Fantasyland Theater is on its farewell tour then I would hope that this show, or a show with a similar idea, would find a new place in the park.  Mickey and the Magical Map is pretty unique compared to the rest of Disneyland’s entertainment, and it adds a different dimension to the park.

King Louie drummers Magical Map

After the show, we wandered around New Orleans Square awaiting our late lunch reservation at Cafe Orleans.  This was a very fun meal and I would highly recommend this restaurant.  Again, a full review will come soon.

After our relaxing lunch, we caught the tail-end of Mickey’s Soundsational Parade.  I’m not a big fan of this parade, as it’s not nearly as unique or ambitious as Festival of Fantasy in Magic Kingdom or Paint the Night.  I wonder if we could see a new daytime to parade come to Disneyland in the next few years, they are probably due for one.

Giraffe fence

donald and the castle parade

Next, we park hopped to California Adventure and spent a little time in the Grizzly Peak area, going on Soarin’ and then Grizzly River Run.  I spent some time taking photos around the Grizzly River Run after that.  I love that guests can walk through little parts of the attraction and check out some of the theming involved.  You can get some pretty unique photos in that area and it adds to the idea of this being a National Park area, with paths to explore.  This is a quiet area that isn’t walked much.  On one hand, it should be because this is a beautiful area and unlike anything else California Adventure offers.  On the other hand, I selfishly hope that the area won’t become popular so that I can enjoy it without many others around.  I’m guessing it won’t ever become very popular, as people don’t typically go on little trails in the parks which is a real shame.  I’ll go on all of your little paths, Disney!

fog grizzly river run

Grizzly Park Service truck

Eureka Grizzly_edited-1

After that we caught the neon lighting up Cars Land at dusk and then rode Radiator Springs Racers.  We weren’t moving very fast this day but I think we both enjoyed that.  We probably rode five attractions total on this day but we saw several shows, ate good meals and just enjoyed being there.  This was one of the best days of my life, partly because of the race and partly because of how we spent our park day.  There was a glow around the day that I think Melissa and I soaked it in as best we could.

Stanley Oasis water tower_edited-1

World of Color was next up on the itinerary.  We watched the show for the second time and my opinion stayed the same (review coming).  We spent some time down by the water during the post-show.  The post-show is one of my favorite parts of World of Color which says something about the show and about the post-show.  I love the sense of belonging that the post-show offers and we stayed until the end of that both times we saw it.  That’s also a great opportunity for photos, whether you want some of the pier or with your family.  The fountains are still going but your camera isn’t at as much risk of getting soaked.

World of Color roller coaster tall

World of Color lots of colors

Melissa and I at World of Color

Four trip-report installments and that’s our first selfie!  I’m proud.  After we took some photos, Melissa and I grabbed a snack and went to Disneyland for Fantasmic!  The new FastPass service for Fantasmic! worked fairly well for us, as we showed up right when the gate was about to open to redeem the FastPass and we got a spot near the center.  It also stopped people from lining up hours early.  No complaints here, as it seemed like they might have ironed out a few kinks in that service.

Melissa saved our spot as I went and got a chimichanga.  I had just ran that morning so I was treatin’ myself.  Why is this ground beef wrapped in a deep-fried tortilla so delicious?  I don’t know but I will gladly eat one anytime, even if I don’t run that morning.

Fantasmic! was very good, as usual.  I’m sad that it will be shut down for a year but that blow is softened by the quality of Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever.  I hope that the year off will bring some new updates to Fantasmic! and that they might tweak the show just slightly.  A few different or new scenes might make the show even more fresh and enjoyable.

Big Thunder at night

The park wasn’t far from closing when the show ended.  We rode Big Thunder Mountain, which is a must-do in the dark, and then Melissa went off to a few shops.  I had Frontierland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country and Rivers of America mostly to myself that night as security was very kind and didn’t start closing those areas for a good 45-minutes after the park closing time.  At one point they started walking towards me, meaning that I can’t get past them.  They immediately stopped once they saw what I was taking a picture of (I think it was the Haunted Mansion) and asked if I got my shot and if they got in the way.  They backed up, to make sure that I could get what I wanted.  That was a very nice interaction, as they didn’t have to take the time to make sure I got what I was looking for.

Golden Horseshoe night

Tom Sawyer Island Big Thunder blue night

I had a wonderful time that night, even though most of my photos didn’t turn out how I wanted.  The night was peaceful, serene and beautiful.  I couldn’t think of a more fitting end to a perfect day.  Eventually I made it back to Main Street, took a few more photos and we headed back to the hotel.  Tired but completely satisfied, we were excited for our last day in the parks.

Corn Dog wagon at night

That is where we’ll pick up our 5th and final installment of the trip report. I’m always looking for feedback on trip reports. Would you like more photos? More detailed plans of what we did and why we did it? More opinions on areas and attractions? Please let us know in the comments and we will try to include that in future trip reports. Thank you very much for reading and have a great day!

– Andrew

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