Trip Reports

August 2016 Disneyland Trip Report – Part 2

If you missed part 1 of this trip report, you can find it here.

After a pretty full day on Monday, we spent Tuesday outside of the parks.  Since this is a Disney blog I won’t spend much time recapping what we did, but I will hit some highlights.  In the morning we walked over to the Marriott Hotel by the Convention Center and had breakfast at the restaurant there.  My dad had been raving about this restaurant’s waffles and caramel syrup for years (after staying there on business) so we had to discover the legend for ourselves.  We sat down for breakfast and there was no waffle on the menu, which would have been sad if it wasn’t so funny.  They did have waffles at the buffet portion of the restaurant and we all opted for that.  While I’m not a big fan of buffets, this one was top-notch and I would highly recommend a nice breakfast here if you are staying close by.

Packing House outside

Later that day we took a bus to the Anaheim Packing District.  Yes, all we did this day was eat.  This was a fun place to get lunch.  The Packing House opened a few years ago and is full of different restaurants.  There was a good variety and many appealing options.  I ended up getting catfish from a Cajun restaurant (Georgia’s) and really enjoyed it.  I also enjoyed my popsicle from PopBar.  While this isn’t the most appealing area of Anaheim, the Packing House was worth visiting.  I will be going back for lunch or dinner here in the future and think this is a nice change of pace from the parks.  This is about a 15 minute bus ride from Disneyland.  One word of warning: Don’t go here when it’s extremely hot outside as the air-conditioning was either non-existent or not very powerful.

Food Packing House

That evening we went to Angel Stadium to see my hopeless addiction, the Seattle Mariners, play an unfortunate baseball game.  While the game itself doesn’t need to be brought up (nor the last 15 years of baseball in Seattle) I will comment on the stadium.  In all honesty, I was underwhelmed by the stadium.  That’s not completely Angels Stadium’s fault as the only other baseball stadiums I’ve been in are Seattle’s and San Francisco’s, both of which are masterpieces.  Anaheim’s stadium pales in comparison as it feels dated and somewhat trashy.  The field itself was nice enough with the rock-work in center field but the concourses were ugly and crowded.  If you are a fan of baseball then, sure, go to a game if you want.  But I wouldn’t call this a ‘must-do’ experience.

The next morning we arrived at California Adventure around park opening to get our FastPasses for Radiator Springs Racers.  DCA has improved leaps and bounds over the last decade but it could really use one more great attraction (or several more).  Even with Radiator Springs Racers opening 4 years ago there is still a long backup each morning to get a FastPass for the attraction.  Maybe the upcoming superhero land will have something to offset this.  Or maybe they should have put Star Wars Land in this park.

Anyway, after getting our FastPass it was time for our inaugural ride on Soarin’ Around the World.  I’ll have a review of the attraction in the next week or two but I do think this is still a classic.

Potato Head TSM

After Soarin’ was a trip around Paradise Pier while we waited for our FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers.  It was fairly easy to take advantage of the FastPass system even with our big group.  Before heading over to Cars Land, I got us all FastPasses for California Screamin’.  One of the keys to taking advantage of FastPasses is to always get a new one before you use the one that you have (unless you’re on the other side of the park).  While I’m sure most of you know that, it’s a simple tip to pass on.  We rode Toy Story Mania and Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  The reason I wrote that sentence was because I wanted to use this photo.

Bird Little Mermaid

I’m an average photographer at best, so it says more about the ride than me that I can consistently get decent photos on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure.  It’s too bright on that ride, especially in the big show scene.  When it’s too bright, my eyes start to wander instead of focusing where the imagineers want them to.  Also the attraction is just a book report of the film and that makes it somewhat boring to me.

Something that never gets boring is Cars Land.  We rode Radiator Springs Racers and the new Luigi’s Rollicking Roadsters.  Luigi’s is the debut of the trackless ride system in the U.S.  Unfortunately, the system is more impressive than the actual attraction.  While the ride is fine and needed as a third attraction in Cars Land, it will never be seen as anything great.  They did well with the limited space they had and I’m eager to see the first use of a trackless system in a great ride instead of just a simple one (I’m looking at you, Star Wars Land).

Luigi's in ride

After Luigi’s we went to ride Screamin’ and then headed to lunch at Storytellers Cafe.  You can read my review of that restaurant here.

After lunch we went for a wet ride on Grizzly River Run which might earn the coveted honor of Wandering in Disney’s Most Underrated Attraction.  I think it’s incredibly hard to theme a raft ride but there are no issues with this one.  Raft rides may need simple stories and this one has that while fitting in seamlessly to the Grizzly Peak area. There are fun paths around the area and plenty of beautiful architecture and rock-work to admire.  While Kali River Rapids in Animal Kingdom bites off a little more than it can chew, Grizzly River Run is nearly perfect because of its simplicity.

River Grizzly RR

After Grizzly River Run we took my cousin for his first stay at the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  Let’s say he didn’t enjoy his experience as he doesn’t like dropping.  While I’ve never loved the feel of dropping, I do love the Tower of Terror for its wonderful story and theme.  I’ll be sorry to see it rethemed to an attraction that doesn’t fit the area.

We spent this whole day in the park without going back and resting at the hotel.  This is much easier to do when you have a sit down meal, at a restaurant that’s inside, during the day.  The rest of the day was filled with minor attractions and relaxing.  We spent a good portion of our time in the Animation Building.  We took drawing lessons at the Animation Academy, an attraction I plan to review soon.

Animation Building

We went to Cars Land at sunset for the lighting following another trip along the Cadillac Mountains via the single rider line.  When you want your family to understand your Disney addiction, take them to Cars Land at night.  They fill the air with addictive, invisible pixie dust making guests want to go back every few weeks.

That night I waited a little too long to have dinner and by the time I made it over to Paradise Garden Grill it had just closed.  Why that place is closing at 8 (I literally showed up at 8:01) when the park’s nighttime spectacular right by it at 9 is beyond me but I digress.  I ended up at the Pacific Wharf Cafe and had an Asian Chicken Salad in a Bread Bowl.  I thought it was a decent meal but not something I’d ever get again.  If it hadn’t been so hot I would have gone for the soup.

Purple Fountains WOC

World of Color – Celebrate was better than I remembered.  While there were some problems with its pacing, the show had heart.  The Frozen song and the Star Wars preview felt like a commercial but the rest of the show was really good.  With that being said, I’m happy to see the original World of Color back in the parks starting today!

Pacific Wharf bridge fireworks

Cozy Cone Cars land night

We slowly exited DCA after the show, catching Disneyland’s fireworks from the Pacific Wharf bridge and walking through Cars Land.  Disneyland was open for another hour and a half so we went over there and rode a few rides.  It was that night when I found out that you can fit 3 adults into a seat on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Can you fit comfortably?  No.  Will you feel safe with 3 people in that seat?  No.  Will it be as enjoyable as a normal ride on Big Thunder?  Probably not.  But we fit nonetheless.

We headed back to our hotel that night after 14 hours in the parks.  I don’t typically recommend that but we had a great time.  We sat and relaxed enough in the evening so that we weren’t overly exhausted and the sit down meal during the day was also helpful.

That’s where I’ll leave this portion of the trip report.  Part 3 will have some thoughts on Knott’s Berry Farm, as well as our 3rd Disney day.  Thank you for reading and if you have any questions about trip planning or Disney in general leave them in the comments. Also, if there’s something you’d like me to include in these trip reports please let me know!

– Andrew

Categories: Trip Reports

8 replies »

    • Yes, I fully expect that area to turn into a superhero land of some sort. I should have articulated that I don’t think that superhero land will fit the theme of the park (California). I’m hoping to be surprised but I have my doubts.

      • I think a lot of rides there don’t really fit the theme of the park – Monsters Inc, Ariel (I guess we live by the ocean… So maybe that fits?), Bugs Land. Cars Land isn’t really California but we do have a lot of people and cars here!

      • I give a pass to Cars Land as it’s on the way to going to California in the movie and also looks some of the dry desert areas (although I think it’s supposed to be near Arizona in the movie). A Bug’s Land could fit anywhere but I would say that land definitely needs to go in the future. I completely agree on Ariel and Monsters Inc. Ariel is in a weird spot of the park. It’s technically part of Paradise Pier but it’s just before the pier and right after Grizzly Peak and the Wharf. it’s an attraction without a land almost.

      • Ariel is definitely better than what they had there before it! Remember the weird California history show? I think there were some pretty racist parts in it, too. I remember being a bit surprised when I saw it.

      • I never got to see that! I’ll have to look it up. The park has definitely improved over the last 6 or 7 years. That’s for sure!

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