Walt Disney World = WDW
We started our Friday with a character breakfast at Paradise Pier Hotel so we could meet some characters in one fell swoop instead of waiting in character lines at the park. Characters one of my favorite things about going to Disney, so this was one of the top things on my list. Also, Teh MD-AR hadn't met Minnie and she's the biggest Minnie fan I know, so that HAD to be remedied. Finally, if you've never had a Mickey waffle, you're missing out. I hadn't had one until this breakfast but now I feel like I need more of them in my life. They were delicious.
As the characters passed our table, we got photos with them and their autograph on our race bibs. For me, autographed race bibs are more personal than an autograph book. I actually bought retractable sharpie markers just for autographs. #priorities
|When we were posing, Teh German said the most gorgeous ladies were in the photo so it couldn't be a bad picture.|
This is why I'm keeping him. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine. Mine.
|Selfies with Stitch were a must after my 10k costume for Princess Weekend.|
|Teh MD-AR meeting Minnie for the first time!|
After our breakfast, we headed to California Adventure.
Let me sidebar for a moment to give you some helpful information. For those of you who have never been to Disneyland before, let me explain the setup. Disneyland is actually only 1 of 2 parks. There is Disneyland and California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort, aka the Disney World of the west coast. This is similar to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure in Orlando (I also think there is one in CA, but I don't know how it is set up), they are the same place, but separate parks, requiring separate entry tickets.
Also FYI: WDW contains multiple parks as well. 5 if you include ESPNzone, but I don't, so only 4 actually. They are: Magic Kingdom (where the castle is), Epcot (where that cool looking ball is), Hollywood Studios (where the Star Wars stuff first appeared), and Animal Kingdom (where, duh, the animals are). Each park requires a ticket for entry unless you get a "Park Hopper" pass where you can go into different parks during the same day.
Anyways. We were given crappy directions by a bus driver that we could walk through the Grand Californian Hotel and get to a side entrance to California Adventure. We were all for shortcuts, so we did that. Honestly, getting to see the hotel made this worth it. Inside, it looked just like the inside of the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone National Park, with some Disney flair. Huge fireplaces, wooden beam everywhere. I was dragging my chin along the floor as I walked it was so impressive. We got to the area to enter the park and we noticed some people being turned away because they didn't have a Grand Californian hotel key. At which point, we noticed a sign that said Non-hotel residents weren't allowed to use the hotel entrance to the park until after 11am. Booo hiss. It was only 9, so we trekked back out of the hotel, through Downtown Disney/Disney Springs/whatever the fuck you want to call the shopping area you can get to without a ticket. Then we noticed that the lines for bag check were crazy. We waited and finally got through.
Another difference between WDW and DL: WDW has bag check lines and no bag check lines. This is much more expedient since most people aren't carrying bags into the park.
We then had to get into the park entrance lines. The lines weren't as long here and as we were waiting to scan our passes, we noticed Oswald right inside the park! The line wasn't long, so of course we got photos with this old school character.
PS. I had purchased a Photo Pass for 5 days so we could get our race photos and our park photos for $70 (a steal compared to the $200 Teh MD-AR and I spent for only race photos for Princess Weekend), so every photographer we saw, we pretty much stopped for unless the line was too long. #gettingmydollasworth
In my research, I had seen that we needed to get fast passes for the high demand rides right as the park opened. First stop was Tower of Terror fast pass since the line was already 45 minutes long. After grabbing fast passes, we tried to get fast passes for Radiator Springs car ride, at which point I learned that Fast Passes at DL aren't the same as WDW. You can only hold one fast pass at a time at DL or until a certain amount of time has passed. Also, having to go to different locations for fast passes is equally annoying. At WDW, you get fast passes at a kiosk. Usually a Cast Member assists you and you get all your fast passes for the day at one time. Essentially, you schedule your day around your fast passes/reservations, in one stop. Ugh. Lesson learned.
While we waited on our Tower of Terror fast pass time, we rode Teh MD-AR approved rides like Monsters Inc where Roz told our car (which included me, Teh MD-AR, a female stranger, and Teh German), "If he acts up ladies, you just let me know." Before we got to Roz, I saw an eye and thought it was actually a photo camera. Nope, it was an actual camera where someone was watching and then would speak through Roz's character at the end. We heard her say something different to the car behind us. It was awesome.
We also hit up Mater's tractor ride and Soarin' which was a challenge for Teh MD-AR since she knew her feet would come off the ground, but I had told her how awesome the ride was, so she succumbed to my peer pressure. Notes about Soarin': Disney has changed the ride from Soarin' through California to Soarin' around the World. I knew this. I did NOT expect to get to soar by the Neuschwanstein castle (which Walt Disney based Cinderella's castle on) that Teh German had brought me to when we were in Germany. If I hadn't been strapped in, I would have fallen out of my seat from bouncing around with excitement. I didn't love the CA one, but I liked it more than around the world.. also I missed the smell of oranges and trees, which I told Teh German and Teh MD-AR.
|Super Hero land... or whatever it's called.|
Teh MD-AR wasn't expecting a booty pinch.
Teh German doesn't react to booty pinches.
|Being sexy on Route 66.|
|Cozy Cone Inn|
|We rode this later.|
Only cool kids get the "Nikon picture spot" sign in their photo, but at least we got the cars coming over the hill.
It was finally time for our Tower of Terror fast passes and we headed that way. We waited about 20 minutes, but we finally got on and it was terrifying. I didn't know what to expect, so that's always fun. Teh German loved it, Teh MD-AR said HELL NO and guarded our bags. After Tower of Terror, we decided to meander down to the boardwalk and see what was there. I knew there was a roller coaster there and that Teh German would enjoy riding it, as well as the ferris wheel.
|Teh MD-AR found these hats and we needed silly hat selfies!|
|Me pretending NOT to be terrified.|
Please notice the white/black pin I have on the right. It's actually Eve from Wall-E. Teh German agreed to wear the Wall-E sandal pin if I bought the set. He put Wall-E beside his Pete's Dragon pin. /swoon.
|More silly hat selfies!|
We had dinner reservations at 4:50, so we didn't want to eat a huge lunch and we had survived pretty late on a huge breakfast. I had read that Flo's V8 Cafe was a great place for food, so I wanted to go there and my entourage agreed. On our way, we passed a beer stand, so while Teh German got his beer, we headed to Flo's to get food. We agreed on splitting the roast chicken and grabbing dessert at the Ghirardelli ice cream place we had passed.
|Sexy hitchhikers... as long as you don't zoom in on that face I'm making.|
|It's all in the details at Disney parks, which is my favorite part!|
|We hung out with Stanley in Radiator Springs.|
After our lunch in Cars Land, we headed back to the boardwalk to ride Toy Story Mania. It's essentially a ride where you go around a track and shoot at screens like at the fair. I just have to brag for a minute. I always lose shooting games. Always. I decided to take the approach where I aimed for all the high value targets instead of rapidly shooting the many low value targets. This paid off. I was the left screen, Teh German was the right screen, and Teh MD-AR, sitting behind us, said she had something like 85,000 points. I WON!!!
|Teh German tried to say my accuracy sucked until I pointed out that his did too.|
When we left Toy Story Mania, we noticed that Woody was out and the line was short, so we waited. About 3 minutes after getting into line, a Cast Member came by and said that Woody was taking a break and Buzz was coming out. We were cool with that, so we just waited. Woody did come by the line and greet everyone and we got his signature before he went inside.
We had some fun with Buzz. We pressed his buttons and he powered off, then I think because I had pressed the button so many times, he'd start up, but then turn back off. Finally, we used the Mater approach we'd seen in Cars Land to "jump" start Buzz by literally jumping up and down. Many giggles were had.
It was getting close to dinner time, so we wanted to meander towards our location for dinner, Carthay Circle. We hadn't really explored the Grizzly Springs portion of the park since we knew we didn't want to ride the wet coaster, so we walked through and enjoyed the sites. When we were at Soarin' (wait time 75 minutes), we noticed a Photo Pass photographer out by the plane and had some silly photos taken of us pretending to fly.
Since it wasn't quite time for our reservation, we decided to check out the stores to see what treats they might have for us. As we were rounding the corner, I saw EARS! I screeched for Teh MD-AR when I noticed it was Flapper Minnie!
We also found another photographer on Buena Vista St and posed.
We didn't find anything from a brief look in the shops and we decided to head to the restaurant early. We were led inside and we were allowed to wait at the bar. We hadn't even been able to order drinks when the hostess came to take us to our table.
Our server, Mitch, was very friendly and helpful with dinner suggestions. Friday was really the day the magic started to come out at DL. I hadn't felt it on Thursday and I was feeling pretty jaded to be completely honest. I understand that "magic" is a fake persona that most Cast Members put on when they are at work, but it honestly makes all the difference to this person who gets shitty customer service 90% of the time already. I come to Disney to feel special and enchanted and even if you have to fake that "magic," it really makes all the difference.
In addition to a good server, the ladies at the table next to us were also runners. We chatted with them throughout our meal. The server's assistant stumped me with some Disney trivia (Lightning McQueen has a Toy Story detail, what it is? If you're really interested, ask in the comments and I'll email you the answer if you don't guess correctly) and I couldn't think of anything good that would have stumped a Cast Member. I should have asked him what color was the bra that Stitch put on his head in Lilo and Stitch, but I just came up with that, so yeah, I had nothing then.
|Teh German's Pork Chop w/ veggies and mashed potatoes|
|My swordfish on veggies with pineapple salsa|
|Teh MD-AR's duck w/ veggies|
As we were leaving, I saw this fancy room and I had stopped to get a photo. Then I started to walk away and I heard a "Wait!" from behind me. It was Mitch and he told Teh MD-AR and I to go in the room (Teh German was in the bathroom) and he'd get our photo! Teh German arrived right in time to be in the photo. Mitch told us the room was used for special reservations or regular reservations if they needed the space.
Back story: Carthay Circle Restaurant is actually a 5/6th scale replica of the Carthay Circle Theater where Walt Disney's first animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was premiered.
Back, back story: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the film that would make or break Walt Disney, and based on the Disney empire now, we can see that it didn't break him and it was his first massively successful film. YAY! (PS. I knew this based on the many Walt Disney reports I did as a kid.)
I had planned for us to go back to Disneyland after we rode Radiator Springs, but then 2 things happened. 1- our fast passes expired because we were still at dinner. 2- we got tired. After we left the restaurant, we headed towards Radiator Springs to jump in the single rider line so we could still ride the ride, which we knew would be worth it.
|Tower of Terror from Bugs Land|
We did make a pit stop for another photo pass photographer in Cars Land, because we had paid for that shit, so we were going to squeeze every penny from it.
Our wait for Radiator Springs wasn't more than 30 minutes, which was just fine. Sadly, Teh MD-AR got separated from Teh German and I. We were lucky enough to be in a car that needed 2 riders. The ride was definitely more fun that Fast Track at Epcot, which is similar. Essentially, 2 cars race through Radiator Springs and one car wins. Our car won! It was awesome.
After the ride, we met up with Teh MD-AR and then headed towards the buses.
|Cars Land at dusk.|
The next morning, we'd see it at dawn. :)
We made another pit stop in the shops on Buena Vista Street since we hadn't checked the shops on the other side of the street. Teh MD-AR found a super awesome Minnie purse and I found the Mine! Mine! Mine! seagulls luggage tag that I'd been looking for. While we were browsing, Teh German found me and told me he had something he HAD to show me. He then pulled me to this shirt display and said, "Aren't those greyhounds?" I "squeeeeee"-ed and said, "Must find Teh MD-AR!" and I took off on a mission to find her. Once I did, I literally drug her to the display and practically yelled, "Look what Teh German found!!!!" She was just as excited as I was. Teh German was excited too, but he wasn't nearly as vocal as we were. After that, we kept finding them all over the store. We knew we'd found the holy grail of all Disney parks.
Instead of going into Disneyland for late hours or staying to watch the light show at California Adventure, we headed back to the bus stop to get back to the hotel. We had the 10k in the morning and we were getting up at 0400. This wasn't so bad since we were mostly still on east coast time, but it was still early and we'd had a long day and it was already midnight in east coast time so we were up past our bedtimes.
Once we finally got back to the room, Teh German went to bed while Teh MD-AR and I finished up working on our costumes. An hour later, costumes complete, it was our turn to join Teh German in some sleeps.