Day 2 (Thursday, October 4)
One of the advantages of having visited Disneyland many times is that I'm never in "commando mode." I'm happy to wander around soaking up the atmosphere and going on whatever rides strike my fancy and don't have hugely long lines. So because I was really tired yesterday, and was planning to meet up with friends in the late afternoon today, I slept in a bit and got to the parks a little after 10:00.
My first goal today was Luigi's Flying Tires, one of the rides at the newly opened Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. This ride is like bumper cars in huge floating tires. The theming of the queue is delightful, with tire brands such as Fettucini Alfredo, and a Carburetor County Classic Film Festival poster featuring movies such as "The Dead Battery Society" and "20,000 Leaks Under the Seal."
When my turn came, I chose a tire that had a lot of open space around it, so when the air feed was turned on and we began floating, I had plenty of room to get it going fast! The ride is a couple of minutes long, and I managed to spend most of that time in fairly open areas, bumping into enough other riders to be fun but not getting clogged up in a tire traffic jam. I think the Disney folks have done a good job of not overloading the available space with too many tires, so you really can get out in the open and build up some speed.
I'd had very little breakfast, so I decided to have an early lunch and chose Flo's V8 Cafe, a 50s-themed diner in Cars Land. I chose the turkey entree with sides of grilled corn and mashed potatoes. As I was waiting for my tray, I read the (pretend) jukebox selections, which included such musical classics as "Where the Cars Are" and "It Takes Two Tone, Baby."
Hey, am I the last person to realize that Paul Newman's character in "Cars" was a reference to one of his most famous film roles? I don't remember the movie well and thought they always called that car "Doc Hudson" or "Doc," but fake newspapers on the walls of Flo's with headlines such as "Hud Does It Again" made me go "D'oh!"
Hardly anyone was in the restaurant yet, so I easily found a table indoors (it was hot outside) with an excellent view of Route 66, the main drag of the "town" of Radiator Springs that makes up Cars Land. I lingered over my meal, chatting with a CM who didn't have much else to do yet, and planning what to do next. I was scheduled to meet up with my friends Larry and Julie in the mid-afternoon, then Laura was coming up from San Diego around 4ish.
I decided to work my way to Soarin' over California via A Bug's Land, because I like Heimlich's Chew Chew Train. Unfortunately (unless it was just my nose not working properly), the only scent I really noticed on the trip today was from the animal crackers.
On to Condor Flats and Soarin' Over California, still my favorite ride at the DLR. I went single rider and completely lucked out, not only getting on the very next flight, but also sitting in the top row of the center section! Last time I went single rider I ended up in an outermost seat of one of the lower rows. Well, that's how it goes; single rider is always luck of the draw.
I wasn't far from Grizzly River Run, so after stopping for a few minutes in Condor Flats to enjoy a performance by Minnie's Fly Girls, I walked over to check out the wait-time situation on GRR. Turned out it was down at the moment, and the CMs didn't know when it would be fixed. I guess my luck from Soarin' was still with me, though, because 3-4 minutes later, while I was sitting in a shady area nearby deciding what to do next, I heard shouts that it was open. I joined the excited crowds and got right on the ride. My raftmates and I hardly even got wet! We even avoided the geyser at the end of the ride. Now that is lucky!
I did get a couple of pieces of bad news from one of the CMs at GRR while it was closed. He hadn't seen my little buddy Push the talking trashcan in a couple of years, so apparently he's either retired or on a long vacation. And the Miner 49ers bluegrass band were let go several months ago. :-( But I just did some Googling and found some good news about them: they've been performing at Knott's Berry Farm as the Ghost Town Miners--perfect! From what I could see on their Facebook page, they were only booked through Labor Day this year, but they said they got a very good reception from Cedar Fair VIPs, so cross fingers that they'll be back next year. Do catch their show if you go to Knott's.
With still an hour or so until Larry and Julie were due to arrive, I decided to walk over to the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney and see whether there was anything I wanted for myself or friends. I realized that I could take the shortcut through the Grand Californian Hotel. On my way, I stopped in to ask the CMs at Storytellers Cafe whether they knew the source of the aphorisms (or whatever they're called) that adorn the cafe and also show up elsewhere at the GC, such as on coasters in guest rooms. They pointed me toward another CM who was just giving a tour of the hotel to some other visitors. Great timing!
The docent CM told me that the phrases are called epigrams, and that while some of them were written for the hotel, others come from existing sources, including American writer and philosopher Elbert Hubbard. (He was tied to the Arts and Crafts Movement that the GC itself represents, and a few of his books are on display in the GC's lobby.) The epigrams on the walls of Storyteller's include:
By hammer and hand do all things stand From the seed to the harvest - From the kitchen to your table The life so short - the craft so long to learn
After continuing into the hotel and pausing for a few minutes to watch a monorail train pass through the Brisa Courtyard, I continued on to Downtown Disney and went into World of Disney. Just a few minutes later, my phone buzzed; Larry and Julie had just arrived at the plaza between the parks. They came over to WoD and we sat down outside for a few minutes to plan our next steps. We decided that our planning would go better if we got out of the hot sun and had some cool beverages, so we walked over to DCA and went to the Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe. This is the place that caused so much excitement among coffee aficionados when it opened a few months ago because it serves Starbucks products.
Over our drinks, the plan we arrived at for the next hour was that Larry and I would do a couple things in DCA and DL while Julie staked out a bench at Town Square in Disneyland for the 4:45 p.m. flag retreat. Both she and Larry are USAF veterans and try to attend the retreat whenever they're at DLR at the right time.
Larry and I are geocachers and amateur benchmark hunters. He has some fun virtual geocaches at DCA and Downtown Disney. He's also been the main provider of information for my Disney survey marks website, and even has a multistage virtual based around some of the DCA benchmarks. When the renovated areas of DCA opened, Larry and our friend Lloyd found a bunch of new benchmarks. I spotted a few of them during my wanderings yesterday and today, but Larry offered to point out a couple more on our way out of DCA. The photo here is of me standing over the one in Carthay Circle. (Click on the photo to view a larger version that makes it easier to see the benchmark.)
Time to mention the street performers in the Buena Vista Street (entrance) area of DCA. One of them, a dolled-up (Larry was more of the opinion that she was tarted-up :-)) lady named Dolly came by our table as Larry and I were wrapping up at the FF&P Cafe. She was carrying a small dog (actually a hand puppet, but don't give that away!), and chatted with us for a couple of minutes about her lovely neighborhood.
Then as we were about to leave DCA, we ran across Molly the telegram lady on her tricycle, its baskets full of parcels to deliver. She asked whether there was anyone we'd like to send a telegram to. We decided on Meg and Lloyd, our benchmark-hunter colleagues from Northern California. Our message was:
HAVING FUN AT DCA! STOP. LOTS OF BENCHMARKS. STOP.
I suppose a cynical person would have questioned the authenticity of Molly's endeavors when she never asked us for Meg and Lloyd's address or telephone number, but I told her I had total confidence that she would get the message to them. As she said, the motto of the Buena Vista Street Messenger Service is "It Gets There When It Gets There," which was good enough for me. :-)
Larry and I then continued on our way to Big Thunder Ranch to see Billy Hill and the Haunted Hillbillies. Their fun Halloween-themed show included seasonally appropriate songs such as "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky" along with some of the group's standard country pieces. The lead Billy was taking advantage of the group's temporary location by trying to scare the people going by on the Disneyland Railroad, so he had us all scream at them. I guess the conductor organized a response, because some seconds later, they all screamed back at us. :-)
The show ended about 4:25, after which Larry and I hoofed it back to Main Street, stopping to pick up some cookies for everyone. Laura had just arrived, so we all said hello and got ready for the flag retreat. Afterwards, we decided to browse the Adventureland/New Orleans Square area for a ride or two before finding some dinner. There was quite a long wait on the Jungle Cruise, but Pirates wasn't bad, so we went on that.
I had heard that some artifacts from the legendary Adventurers Club at Walt Disney World were now at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel, so I asked the others whether they'd be interested in eating there or at the adjoining Tangaroa Terrace restaurant. They were game, so we hopped on the Disneyland Railroad at New Orleans Square and took it to Main Street (dinosaurs!), then walked out of the park and over to the hotel.
It turns out that Sam's has quite a good selection of filling foods, not just appetizers, so we ate on the terrace there instead of at the full restaurant. We arrived just as someone ordered a Krakatoa Punch, triggering the eruption of the volcano on one wall of the bar. We didn't see the ship in a bottle (directly from the AC) that sinks when someone orders a Shipwreck on the Rocks, but maybe next time!
Laura and I both ordered the Barbecued Chicken Sandwich, Julie got the Asian Chicken Salad, and Larry had the Ahi Poke. My sandwich was very tasty, and everyone else seemed pleased with their choices, too. It was also a lovely setting. We were surrounded by tiki torches and palm trees, with the retro Disneyland sign lighted up atop the water slide at the nearby pool. And a Hawaiian guitarist was playing on the terrace during part of our visit. With Laura's AP discount, we got out of Sam's for less than $60 including tax and tip. (We all had non-alcoholic beverages with dinner, or it would have been noticeably more.)
By this time, Larry and Julie were ready to head home for the evening. Laura had an errand to run at the Paradise Pier Hotel before driving back to San Diego. I was facing a walk the entire width of the DLR, from the Disneyland Hotel through all of Downtown Disney and the entrance plaza to the shuttle bus area. But I really wanted to try the Radiator Springs Racers at night, and had missed my chance the night before by staying too long at Disneyland. So I decided to give it a go tonight, my last night of this trip.
I had heard how pretty the archway entrance to Cars Land is, so I wended my way through Pacific Wharf and went in that way. It really is gorgeous, especially at night. Just as I was approaching the arch, I noticed several CMs hanging around the area. I sort of wondered whether something was up, but I kept walking instead of asking them. I hadn't gone more than 20 feet when I heard the CMs asking people behind me to get over to the sides of the road. Out from a nearby backstage area came Lightning McQueen! He slowly rolled past me towards Route 66, saying hi to his admirers along the way.
I ended up spending 40 minutes in the single-rider line for RSR, but the wait was worth it. The lighted mountains and canyons and waterfalls were just gorgeous. By all means, do go on RSR at night if you possibly can.
So, not with any grand plan, I ended up going on the same ride for my first and last adventures of this particular Disneyland trip. I can't say enough good things about Cars Land, and I look forward to hanging out on Route 66 more in the future. There are other food places to try, and I didn't even make it into the shops. Let's hear it for John Lassiter and everyone else who had a hand in creating the area.
After walking back to the Candy Cane Inn, I stayed up to watch "Elementary" because my flight wasn't until 11:15 the next morning. All went well this time (no fog delays), and I was home by early afternoon on Friday. I do need to mention one aspect of the flight. I traveled both ways on Southwest Airlines, a company known for its fun-loving attitude. The attendants on the southbound flight were very friendly but didn't do a comedy routine. Quite different on the return flight; the chief attendant was quite a clown. She said things like, "Please pretend to pay attention for the next few minutes while we discuss the safety features of this airplane," and "Put on the mask and breathe normally. Air is $1 for the first three minutes and 50 cents for each minute after that." :-) :-) Good ol' Southwest!
So here I am back home already. But now I get to plan another trip to use my remaining two hopper tickets! Maybe in late fall of 2013 or the spring of 2014. We shall see...
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Text and photos (c) 2012 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.
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Last updated 10/8/2012