Explore. Experience. Engage.

Powered by our sister site, Family Vacation Critic

Coastering in SoCal -- Part III

Author: USRoadTripper
Email: usroadtripper@yahoo.com (More Trip Reviews by USRoadTripper)
Date of Trip: September 2006

We tried out Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters next since it didn't have much of a line. It was a nice ride, and I ended up beating Kevin quite handily thanks to hitting a lit up triangular target. Leaving Tomorrowland, we crossed the hub and went into Adventureland for a bit. We decided to stop to watch the Tiki Room, and Kevin got a Dole Whip while we waited. I really enjoyed the ambiance in the preshow/waiting area with the fire, the water effects, the staticky tiki god narrations and the super ancient Dole pineapple canning video!! The original Tiki Room is such a nice show...campy but fun, and something that I hope never changes.

It was almost time for fireworks by this time, and we were both feeling the need for a bit of dinner, so we headed to Casey's Corner. The line was horrible! We were so hungry and so tired that we became pretty giddy, which thoroughly entertained the two ladies in front of us! We all marveled at how people can stand in line for 15 minutes directly under the menu, then have to pause to decide what they want when they get to the register.

I got a regular hot dog and Kevin got a chili dog, and once the dogs were dressed for dinner, we went back out onto Main Street. Watching fireworks is just one step behind watching parades as activities that I truly hate while in theme parks. Yet Kevin really wanted to stop and watch them, so I sucked it up and ate my hot dog as they started. Frankly, I thought the show was really lame excepting just a few small points...they get mega kudos for working in the Electrical Parade music, and the Star Tours little segment where a laser shoots out of the castle and makes a green firework explode on the end of Main Street was kinda cool too. That was it though. Everything else was just music and unrelated explosions to me.

After the show, we waited around for the crowd to die down a bit, but sensing that it was gonna get worse before it got better, we battled against the crowd into Fantasyland. My memory is fuzzy about which rides came next, but I know we did Alice in Wonderland before leaving the area. Our Splash Mountain Fast Pass was valid, so we took the path behind Big Thunder to get there. The path was really eerie though...there was no one else around, and there was no area music, so it made the park feel really deserted.

There was still no one around when we got to Splash Mountain, so the Fast Passes were completely unnecessary. I didn't remember much about this ride from my last trip, but now I can safely say that this ride sucks compared to WDW's! Firstly, the water moves so fast that it almost feels more like a rapids ride than a log flume. Florida's version meanders at a nice pace, letting you really take in the scenery. This one just hurries you right on past the show scenes, giving you pretty much no time to take it all in. And secondly, they just don't develop the story nearly as much as they should. Everything just seems very randomly placed. So yeah, Splash Mountain definitely goes in the "Better in Florida" column.

We didn't have too much time left before the park closed, so we walked back towards the entrance via Adventureland. When we passed Indiana Jones, there was no wait, so we decided to end out the night with that. I think Indy is a solid ride, but to be the dissenting voice, I really don't think it's all that. It's got some nice theming, but there are too many places where you can tell that they either ran out of money and decided to leave you in the dark, or where they had major show scenes and effects not operating. It's definitely not a ride that I feel the need to wait very long for.

By the time we left, the park was closing, so we scurried out the front gates with everyone else. We both agreed that we'd had an incredibly fortunate day, in that we got to ride all the E-ticket rides plus see tons of other stuff, all on a Saturday of a holiday weekend when we didn't get there until the afternoon. Had that been the only day that we were spending there, I would have walked away feeling like I did a good solid chunk of the stuff in that park. Luckily, we still had two more days to go!

We followed the crowd out, and down the street towards our hotel, and pretty soon, we were both collapsed into bed, exhausted.

Sunday, September 3rd

I'm not sure what time I woke up, but Kevin was already awake and ready to go, whatever time it was. After showering, we hit up the free breakfast again, then headed out for California Adventure. There was quite a lineup when we arrived, so we stood roasting in the already boiling sun for maybe 10 minutes or so before we could get in.

Kevin wanted to do Tower of Terror first, but then suggested getting a Fast Pass for Soarin' first. When we arrived at Soarin', the wait was only about 10 minutes, so we went ahead and rode instead of waiting until later. I still think this is a great ride, and Kevin loves it as well.

Next we went over to Tower of Terror. My first thought upon seeing the front of the tower is that it just looks fake. The burn on the building is very obviously painted on, unlike Florida's which resembles much more closely a real charred building. This tower just didn't look decrepit enough...or old enough, or dirty enough, or scary enough. There was no wait, and when we entered the lobby, we both thought it looked very out of place. It was very well lit, and looked somewhat inviting, which isn't the point at all! It's supposed to be dark and creepy! The library and interior queue were nice, but I took the chicken exit down before the ride started because I hate drop towers. Kevin said that the ride was good despite not having the 4th Dimension scene like MGM's tower does.

The next ride we did was Mike and Sully to the Rescue. Basically, I thought this ride was awesome. I loved it! The queue was packed full of stuff to read and look at, and it was all hilarious. I particularly loved the overhead monitors that were displaying the Child Detection Emergency Broadcast System "test." It pretty much said that if an actual kid had been sighted, you were supposed to scream your head off. Love it!! The ride itself was really great...a fantastic addition to that park. I loved Superstar Limo, but I guess I'm with the masses in thinking that Mike and Sully is a better ride. I particularly liked how the Japanese restaurant actually smelled like Japanese food, and the area where they store all the doors...I'm sure it was probably just mirrors, but I was very impressed by the effect nonetheless.

We both picked up some frozen strawberry lemonade on the way out of the courtyard, then got in line for the next Aladdin show. The lemonade was way too frozen to eat right away anyway, so having 45 minutes to let it melt during the show was nice. We sat in the first balcony of the theater, a few rows back from the front, so we had great seats. I thought the show was really good...much better than the Steps in Time "be nice to your little brother" crap that was in there last time I was at DCA. Someone described the show as "Broadway caliber" and while I definitely wouldn't praise it *that* highly, I did think it was above average for a theme park show.

When we left, our frozen lemonade was just at the perfect consistency, so we ate as we walked back to the Wharf area. We hadn't decided on anything for lunch ahead of time, so we decided to do the bread and tortilla factory tours, then grab lunch at one of their respective restaurants. We did the Boudin Bakery tour first, but they weren't giving out any samples. Boo! It is quite impressive that Disney can take something as ordinary as baking bread and turn it into an entertaining and educational theme park attraction.

Next we went to the tortilla factory, but as soon as the doors closed behind us, our friend Scott called Kevin. So Kevin pushed through the doors, went outside to finish the conversation, and we went back in to the preshow. When the doors opened up to let us out of the preshow room, the right side door (the one that Kevin had barged through minutes earlier) didn't open! So Kevin says, "Oh my God...the tortilla factory went 101 because of me!" Once we go to the end, we got a hot and fresh tortilla, which Kevin said was the best tortilla he'd ever made go 101 in his life. He also jumped on the "what is your weight in tortillas?" scale, but claimed that it was off by one since he'd just eaten one tortilla.

Kevin decided to go back to the bakery's restaurant for lunch, while I stayed at the Mexican place by the tortilla factory. While I waited in line, our friend Scott walked by! I hadn't seen him since about 2003 or so, so it was nice to see him again. We chatted for a bit, then he went to find Kevin. I got the chicken taco platter with beans and rice, and I thought it was excellent. Kevin got a salad in a bread bowl and said his was great also. Mike called during lunch, so we chatted for a bit, then when we were all done with lunch, we walked back towards the Pier.

Scott doesn't do thrill rides, so he held my camera bag as Kevin and I got in line for California Screamin'. We didn't wait very long...maybe 10 minutes or so. I still love this ride, even after having ridden some much bigger and more powerful coasters. It's just fun! I didn't notice the effects of the trim brakes too much since I still thought there was a nice amount of floater air over the bunny hills. Screamin' is a really solid ride...one that I wish was closer to me!

Related Trip Reviews
California Trip Reviews
Send Us Your Trip Review!

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@independenttraveler.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our privacy policy and Terms of Use.