The fifth and final trip installment of this trip report is finally here. If you missed part 1, 2, 3, or 4, just click on those numbers and they will magically appear on your screen. Seeing how I’ve already discussed many of my opinions in the previous installments, this final trip report will most likely be more photo based. Unless I somehow start talking about goats again. All bets are off if goats get brought up.
Our final day at the parks is basically making our own ‘Disneyland Greatest Hits plus Some B-Sides’ record. We repeat our favorite parts from the vacation, as well as try to experience anything that we may have missed on our last day in the parks. The interesting thing about vacationing often at a Disney park is that I have a new favorite place to go, attraction to ride, and place to eat nearly every trip. Each vacation has its own greatest hits. That’s some of what keeps me coming back.
We started the morning in Fantasyland on the Storybook Land Canal Boats. I love slow boat rides and the models set up here are really cool. They have added an Arendelle model to the attraction, which was fun to see. I think the attraction could be given a boost of energy if they continue to change out some of the models every few years. Even if they don’t, it’s charming and relaxing.
We spent a little more time in Fantasyland, riding the greatest attraction known to man (Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride) and Alice in Wonderland, again. We took a spin on the carousel and headed toward Tomorrowland. Along the way we stumbled upon the Mad Hatter and Alice meeting guests and putting on quite a show. There weren’t many park guests around, which I think was why this was the most intimate and best meet & greet I’ve ever experienced at the park. The Mad Hatter kept pulling props out of his jacket (mainly sugar for his tea and a fake felt cup) and tossing them to Melissa. They had a nice game of catch. Alice and him bickered back and forth, playfully. They put on a great little improv show and got so caught up in the moment that they nearly forgot to take a photo with guests who were waiting. I would love to see this more often with the face characters who are able to speak (as opposed to the ones who have to wear heads for the costume). Pairing characters with each other allows them to play off what the other says nicely and makes the experience more organic.
We continued our jaunt towards Tomorrowland and decided it was time venture under sea in the submarines. The line was fairly slow but offered some unique views of the park. Have I mentioned how great the Matterhorn looks?
The submarine voyage in Disneyland is pretty unique. I don’t think it’s a great attraction but there isn’t much else like that experience. The area feels historic, which is both good and bad. Eventually, I think the submarines could go away and the space could be better put to use (same goes for Autopia) but it will be somewhat sad if they did go away.
The actual attraction itself makes me feel a little nauseous. I never get claustrophobic but I think that’s what I was feeling inside the submarine, I really don’t know because I’ve never been claustrophobic before. I would guess if it made me feel that way then others probably do, as well. It’s fun to look at the areas under the water. There is some interesting technology they have utilized, with the screens being underwater. It’s an immersive experience that is unlike most theme park attractions, even if it does make me a little queasy.
We caught a few more Tomorrowland attractions. We had such a great experience on Star Tours earlier in the trip that we rode it again. There are different possibilities for each ride, yet I always felt like it was the same for me. The first time on this though was a brand new experience, which was fantastic. The second time was partly new, and that was fun.
We grabbed some lunch at Rancho del Zocalo, which we always enjoy. It was time for a nap so we headed back to the hotel for a couple of hours. On the way out, we happened upon some more streetmosphere entertainment. This time it was a 6-piece band performing some old tunes, as well as Disney classics. I always enjoy these random pit-stops along the way. I had never been a big fan of the ‘rest in the middle of the day’ plan but this trip might have converted me. I think if you’re staying close enough to the park then this is a great choice, as you miss the hottest part of the day and big crowds.
After our break, it was time to bid farewell to California Adventure. We had an early evening dinner reservation at Carthay Circle so before dinner we went to Paradise Pier to snap a few photos. I think this area still has a lot of work to do but it is so much more inviting than a decade ago. The Cove Bar, located right next to Ariel’s Grotto (the left side of the above photo), is undergoing construction. Once that is finished I think this area will become even more appealing to the eye.
Looking the other way, the park also looks great. Ignoring the eye sore that is A Bug’s Life, there is a case to be made that each of the other ‘Lands’ are of pretty good quality. Pacific Wharf is an interesting case. I like the food there to varying degrees, depending on the restaurant, but I think it’d be interesting to have the restaurants and food options vary. Even if they went to a small food festival type of feel there, I think it’d be very interesting. I’m mainly just rambling and blueskying here so it’s probably in our best interest to move on.
Before dinner, Melissa had tried to get another ride on California Screamin’ but the line was too long. So, after our fantastic dinner we went back and she rode one of her favorite coasters. I hung back and took some photos as the sun was setting. Southern California isn’t the easiest spot to get great sunset photos, unless you are by the coast. Still, I ended up with a few shots that I thought were okay.
Before heading back to Disneyland we took a slow stroll through Cars Land. This is becoming a new tradition to end our stay at California Adventure.
We had missed Peter Pan’s Flight so far on this trip and it was the last thing on the list we had to check off. We went right before the first Paint the Night showing of the night and line wasn’t too bad, relative to every other time. The changes they made to this attraction were small but noticeable. The whole attraction looked better. The first scene had the biggest changes and the technology was very cool. It’s work like this that has to be done to bring classic attractions into modern times. When Disney let’s a classic attraction sit and don’t update it, it becomes a relic. That leads to outdated attractions that would take nearly as much money to update and refresh as it would to build an entirely new attraction. Our classics need to be updated every few years, in order to keep them current, and Disney did a nice job with this one. I think they have realized this is important, with a new Soarin’ film coming and other examples throughout the last few years.
I snapped a few photos around Fantasyland and then we took a ride in Space Mountain. I like putting the two photos above next to each other. I think it sums up the versatility that great theme parks offer.
We took our place for Disneyland Forever after this and watched the great fireworks show. We stood a little further back on Main Street this time. It was a crowded evening and our view was good but not great. I think standing right in front of the Partners Statue is the absolute best spot to see this show.
After Disneyland Forever we walked back towards It’s a Small World to save a spot for Paint the Night. Our feet were tired and we were trying for an optimal spot, so we immediately found a spot at the front of the sidewalk and took a seat. There were a lot of moments that I’ll remember from this trip, namely the 10K that Melissa and I ran. But, outside of the race, I think Paint the Night stole the proverbial show during our trip. It’s an incredible parade and I can’t wait to see it again.
After the parade it was time for a little bit of nighttime photography. If there was a small beef I have with Disneyland, and this is really nitpicking, it’s that they don’t have a spot where the lights totally captivate you at night. Cars Land at night is incredible. World Showcase after dark is magnificent. Yes, Main Street is beautiful and iconic but the other lands leave a little bit to be desired, in my opinion. Tomorrowland should shine (pun intended) in this area but it might be worst of all the lands, as far as lights inside the land.
With having said that very small complaint, I think Disneyland is in peak condition right now. The attractions were all running great and everything looks better than it has in a long time.
I look forward to what the future holds at Disneyland but I’m glad I was able to go this year. The resort is on the brink of big (good, but big) changes and this will be the last chance for while to see the parks running at full steam. I’ll remember the debuts of the shows, hanging out with the goats, and riding on the full riverboat route well. I’ll really cherish Melissa and I completing a goal in one of our favorite places on Earth. As usual, I can’t wait to go back.
Categories: Trip Reports