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Photo TR: Adam goes on a new'ish California Adventure


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So with another Summer I was lucky enough to have the chance to revisit the Disneyland Resort for the third year in a row (see Year One aand Year Two for a look at how the resort has changed over the course of these visits). Since my last visit, the entire resort has received several major additions, several major refurbishments but has also kept the existing charm and classics that I've always enjoyed.

 

Most significantly, Disney California Adventure had since completed its 5 year, $1 billion overhaul culminating in the debut of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Let me just put this out there first. I loved California Adventure during my first visit in 2004 (and I know I'm in the minority on that one). I loved it in 2010 and in 2011, so I didn't expect any less returning this time. Cars Land was the hype addition for the park and it is stunning, especially at night. It definitely adds a much needed showstopper to the park with Radiator Springs Racers and the scenery of the Cadillac Range. But the real winner in my eyes was Buena Vista Street itself. I'd go as far as to say that I prefer it to Mainstreet USA. The atmosphere, the tone and the period in which it is set just feels so enveloping and immersive. It is the kind of place I can grab a sandwich at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical, grab a table and take it all in.

 

I'll give a more detailed rundown on my thoughts throughout the trip report, but I really love the direction Disney has taken with the Disneyland Resort over the last five years. I think they've finally got a balanced resort that will see a massively increased demand, which will hopefully lead to more additions in the vein of Cars Land and Buena Vista Street.

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This was here last time, but what was behind, not so much...

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Well, this is definitely different!

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Last time I was here, there were still remnants of the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Whoa. *drools*

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Not hip and edgy anymore...

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Naturally, this was our first stop!

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Having only seen portions of the first film and none of the second, I assumed this to be authentic to the setting.

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But from the looks of it, the population is a little more than 12...

 

Maybe 15.

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Cone you believe I'm going to start indulging in puns?

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It would take us a few days to actually get to Luigi's Flying Tires as the lines were almost always upwards of 90 minute wait times.

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My first meal at Cars Land had to be conepletely in theme... I mean completely.

 

I tried both the Chili Cone Queso and the Chicken Verde cones (served in a sourdough bread-wrap/cone) along with a pomegranate limeade topped with a lime foam. There was nothing left by the time I was done, and I don't even like chili.

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LEDS!!!

 

That's light emitting... Oh, you get it already.

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Whoa.

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Holy Rockwork Batman!

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The only thing that could make this better would be if this was a Chocolate Wonderfall. #Klassy

 

But seriously, the forced perspective works so well in person!

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Visual sight lines in Cars Land are stunning and Radiator Springs Racers cuts across them beautifully.

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It doesn't matter which portal you enter through, Cars Land looks amazing from all three entryways.

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Coming in from the Pacific Wharf...

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Teehee!

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Over in Hollywoodland (formerly the Hollywood Pictures Backlot) the Intolerance elephants as well as the entry sign for the land have been removed.

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I always enjoyed stopping by the Disney Animation building to enjoy the lobby's AV loop. Some great imagery and sound from select features from Disney history.

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And here's Tower of Terror, just doing its thing.

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Back after a two year hiatus is the Pixar Play Parade.

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Some floats were altered to allow for the installation of the Red Car Trolley guide wires (Violet was moved to a lower hand on this float and Jack-Jack was also lowered) while the Ratatouille float was removed completely.

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Still the most awesome parade piece ever. This thing SOAKS everyone in its way!

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I had never seen it run this efficiently before but with three trains on the track at all times (plus one in the station), the near-racing elements of the coaster were far more visible!

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The old Paradise Pier advertisements have been replaced with some new ones that help to tie in the theme of the area.

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I didn't get the chance to revisit the Paradise Garden offerings again this year, but I did enjoy Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta last year.

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Best. Addition. EVAR!!!

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I still love the look of Grizzly Peak.

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I made a new friend on Buena Vista Street!

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The only facade retained from the former shops, the former candy store is now a part of Elias & Co.

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The interiors of the store now match the time period and even if you aren't interested in the merchandise, there is plenty of detail to take in.

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The shops are all connected now (much like Mainstreet USA) and the interiors are much nicer than they were before.

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Rocketeer jacket! WANT!

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Elias & Co. is a very warm and inviting shop. Definitely one of the nicest additions to Buena Vista Street.

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John Carter reference! Pinch me, I'm in heaven!

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These custom book covers are just plain awesome!

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Glitzy!

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And here's an Ub Iwerks tribute!

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Oswald's is an awesome little stop dedicated to that Lucky Rabbit!

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And while they're not selling those Oswald ears from Comic Con (yet), they do have plenty of Oswald merchandise for the fans to enjoy now.

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Dick Tracy reference!

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Ooh!

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Eat your heart out Disney's Hollywood Studios.

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I'll spare you my hundreds of mint julep photos but I grabbed a copy of the free Buena Vista Bugle and took it over with me to Disneyland to enjoy some reading with a side of deliciousness.

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Our dinner that night was at Trader Sam's, in what would be the first of several visits to this awesome bar.

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I love this place!

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Did you know Dick Van Dyke was a friend of Trader Sam?

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Tokyo Tower of Terror Hotel Hightower reference!

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Seriously folks, try the Pu Pu Platter. It comes with some delicious wings, fried long beans, great short ribs and a fantastic slaw! So, so good!

Edited by Hhappy
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(Continued)

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I didn't really stop to take the time last year to really read into the many details at Trader Sam's, but there's so much of it, and so much humor behind it all.

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The bar has tie-ins to many different Disney links past and present, this one being Indiana Jones.

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The design sits somewhere healthily between the Tiki Room and Jungle Cruise.

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Even the bar taps have light up tikis that make recognizable noises when poured.

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Typhoon Lagoon!

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And a shout out to Walt Disney World's Jungle Cruise. Our Trader Sam was originally called Chief Nah-mee, and is so referenced here.

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I <3 Animatronic Hippos!

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I still love this gag.

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So much to see!

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I love this family tree!

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Anyone know what this animation is from? I honestly have no clue.

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They now sell all of these glasses at the bar. I currently own one bowl, two barrel muggs and two krakatoa punch glasses. Next time I'll get two of the Polynesian glasses.

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Franklin Roosevelt was a member of the Adventurer's Club... Kungaloosh?

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The sinking ship in a bottle from the Adventurer's Club also found a home in Trader Sam's.

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Hehe.

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I chuckled.

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This one's for you Matt!

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So clever!

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We will try this soon enough...

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Hello beautiful!

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Welcome to the first Starbucks at Disney!

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What an awesome place to have lunch!

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And since I was on vacation... Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake!

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Filled with chocolate and raspberry!

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I spent a lot of time during this trip enjoying the new entertainment offerings in the resort, and Five & Dime definitely earned a spot among my favorites.

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A seriously fun show with audience interaction that manages to match the time period and have some great humor to it.

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Time to check out the Mad T Party...

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One thing I noticed that I had never seen before was that a group of locals (yes, I saw them doing this on multiple nights) were having dance offs in between shows.

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Not sure if it was ever intended to work out this way, but these kind of served as pre-shows for any of the official entertainment.

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Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum are the MC's for the party.

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Who R U? is the show featuring the Veniamin Human Slinky, who if you've ever seen on TV, online or even at SeaWorld Orlando when he was featured in Odyssea, it's pretty much the same. Cool to see in person, but a very short offering for sure.

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He can stretch.

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And dance.

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Flynn's Arcade from elecTRONica was replaced by the Mad Arcade...

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It uses the same space as the former arcade but features a totally different lineup of games. The former Flynn's Arcade games have been moved to the second floor of the Tomorrowland Starcade where they might soon be available to play again.

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The Mad Arcade takes some standard arcade games and gives them an Alice in Wonderland overlay...

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All inspired by the Tim Burton film of the same name.

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They even have a Kinect set up to play the Alice in Wonderland mini game from Kinect Disneyland Adventures.

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Have a splendid Frabjous Day!

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Speed of Light!

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They have some neat walk around characters.

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And then there was another dance off...

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Time for the Mad T Party band...

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The Mad Hatter and the March Hare.

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Notice the keyboardist is supposed to Absolem.

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The House of Cards lit up at night.

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(Continued)

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Time to finish up the evening...

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I guess you can call me a citizen of Buena Vista Street.

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I totally forgot how much I enjoyed Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

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Not an ACE plaque.

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The next morning we went back to Cars Land to get Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers and to try out the other rides in the new land.

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There are some clever gags in the line for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, all of which tie into his many Cars Toons.

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I love the soda cup/gas can!

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For you searchers....

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Even from this angle, the backdrop still rocks.

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Hehe.

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Time for a breakfast cone!

 

I can hardly conetain myself!

 

Time to stop this before I slip into a "cona."

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There's some neat details in the queue for Radiator Springs Racers.

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There's a structure in the queue with walls filled with glass bottles, which in the day time looks great!

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Another great part of Cars Land is that you can see Radiator Springs Racers from a ton of different locations. The ride is just that big!

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Test Track sure has come a long way...

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Recreating that awesome teaser image from the 2007 Shareholders Annual Report.

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Unreal.

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Yes, you can get this close.

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Just hanging out with Stanley, the founder of Radiator Springs.

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Note to self: This isn't actually a water fountain.

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Ed Catmull tribute!

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Time for a Red's Apple Freeze... Think frozen apple juice plus marshmallow. It's a little odd at first, but it grows on you!

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Silly Symphony Swings has been peeled for the better.

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Intamin Ride. Intamin Ride. Intamin Ride!

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The Golden Zephyr is another one of those rides I really love to just catch when there's a low wait (which is often)!

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Another extra entertainment offering for this summer is the Phineas and Ferb Rock & Roll Dance Party.

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"Instant Concert... Just Add Water" is an awesome extra show offered several times a day along Paradise Bay. Maestro Goofy leads a symphony of dancing water fountains (World of Color sans the color) in a hilarious set of synchronized movements and sounds, with each show being different than the last.

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The show even has an explosive finale!

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Florida, here we come!

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As a result of guest *feedback*, the animation in Ariel's Undersea Adventure has been replaced with the more traditional 2D animation.

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And as you know, Ariel's hair has been replaced in the Under the Sea scene.

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Ursula still looks great.

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Time for the Boudin Bakery Bread Tour, an annual favorite of mine!

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Caption contest anyone?

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Get the reference?

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Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, another must-do.

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Just doing a little networking while I'm here...

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Also on Buena Vista Street is the Newsboys, an interesting new entertainment offering featuring different music of the time set to more contemporary beats.

 

And yes, they include a song from Newsies.

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Of course, Mickey has a part in the show too.

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The dedication plaque at the Storytellers statue.

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Time for a much anticipated lunch!

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The entrance to the restaurant has a similar layout to the entrance of Club 33, but that's about it.

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The walls feature early photos of Walt along his budding career in California.

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Here we go!

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A look at one of many pages in the restaurant's wine menu... Notice something peculiar?

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Whoa.

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When we return, there's be more photos of food and fun!

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I had never seen it run this efficiently before but with three trains on the track at all times (plus one in the station), the near-racing elements of the coaster were far more visible!

 

With 5 trains it's even better!

It was nice meeting again BTW. Even if it was for only 30 seconds......

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(Continued)

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The interior of the Carthay Circle Restaurant is elegant and so relaxing.

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The centerpiece is this gorgeous atrium featuring animation from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

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Near one of three balcony spaces is another dining space within the restaurant, which is where we were seated.

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Based on recommendations from several friends who had been several times before, we started off with the Signature Firecracker Duck Wings with a Soy, Lime, and Sriracha Chili Sauce. They were amazing. Like not one piece of meat left on the bone, incredible.

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Next up was my anticipated pick of the meal, the Carthay House Biscuits, stuffed with White Cheddar, Bacon, and Jalapeno and served with Apricot Honey Butter. Think a chocolate truffle, but the chocolate shell is bread and the gooey inside is cheese, bacon and jalapeno. Even the Apricot Honey Butter was amazing and I HATE apricot!

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One of my friends had his favorite Udon Noodle Bowl with a Red Thai Curry Broth, Shrimp and Mussels, Shiitake Mushrooms, Bok Choy, Mint, Cashews, and fresh Coriander. He enjoyed it, enough to have ordered it several times more since our visit.

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My other friend had the Pan-Roasted Veal Medallions with Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Peaches, Haricot Verts, and Roasted Almond Vinaigrette. He let not one bite go to waste.

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And my choice, the Pappardelle Pasta with House-made Chicken Meatballs - Tear Drop Tomatoes, fresh Basil, and Yellow Tomato Essence. It didn't look like a large portion but the pasta was thick and the chicken meatballs were deliciously filling.

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Interestingly enough, our dining area gave us access to one of the viewing balconies, offering us an awesome view of the Pixar Play Parade.

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While two of us chose appetizers for our World of Color dining package (order an appetizer/dessert and an entree and you get reserved access to a viewing area for World of Color in Paradise Park), my other friend ordered the "Peaches in All Their Glory" dessert instead. It included Peach and White Chocolate Mousse Cannolis with fresh Grilled Peaches and Peach Sorbet.

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Before the meal was over, I left the table to go roam the restaurant and see all of the unique private dining spaces the Carthay Circle Restaurant had to offer.

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While they all feel like they're a part of the same restaurant, the moods and tones of each dining space differs greatly.

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I really love this atrium!

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I'd love to dine in one of these private booths during my next visit...

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Down in the lobby for the restaurant (also known as the Carthay Circle Lounge) is a small exhibit from the Walt Disney Archives regarding the premier of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at the original Carthay Circle.

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While I didn't have a chance to partake in any of the Carthay Circle Lounge's food or beverage offerings, I was really impressed with the look and feel of the place.

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Love this!

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A love that the lobby for the Carthay Circle Restaurant really reminds me of the design of the lobby at Club 33.

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Another piece of history from the Walt Disney Archives.

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Speaking of Club 33...

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Here's the end of my trip report... I currently live in the 1901 lounge. Here you see me entering the building an leaving my outside world behind... Nice knowing you all!

 

 

If only...

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Proper representation found!

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Minnie's Fly Girls Charter Airline was actually a really enjoyable show!

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And of course, Minnie has a role in the show.

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The Redwood Creek Challenge Trail received an Up-themed overlay not too long ago, which added some humorous touches.

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This is not Instagram'd, believe it or not.

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This place is so picturesque.

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Let's take a ride on Radiator Springs Racers!

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Ramone's paint shop has a neat little effect.

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Doc Hudson is your coach for the race.

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For some reason, I really love this scene.

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The racing portion is really fun.

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Some nice little airtime hills too.

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And on this run, we won the race!

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The famous Tail Light Caverns.

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Faster than McQueen!

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Cave paintings...

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Sadly these beach balls are gone now.

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There's a meet & greet with Red towards the back of Cars Land.

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Back on Buena Vista Street...

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Clarabelle's Hand-Dipped Ice Cream is definitely a new favorite of mine!

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Oh, this view!

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Believe it or not, I didn't take many World of Color photos during this trip.

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Instructions...

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Part 2...

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Part 3...

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Let's review...

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For the love of Larry!

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(Cone'tinued)

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Man, I love this place at night...

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Up close and detailed...

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Ramone's looks the best at night...

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*drools*

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*drools more*

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Also looks great at night.

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Whoa.

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No detail from the films left out.

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So cool!

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For Larry...

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And more...

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Fillmore's at night...

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So pretty!

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The nicest looking lockers I've ever seen.

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A look down the street...

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So familiar yet so different.

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Pinch me, I'm dreaming.

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Matterhorn looks great after its refurbishment.

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There's this...

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Sums it up pretty well.

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The Laughing Stock was an awesome show I had never seen before in The Golden Horseshoe.

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Apparently the show has a long storyline that runs across multiple shows a day like episodes. If you watch all in a day, you've watched the whole season.

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It's a bit edgy, which is awesome.

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Time for some fun in Tom Sawyer Island's Pirate's Lair.

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I've always enjoyed the added layer of details brought on by the Pirate's Lair.

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This is what I get for all of those cone puns.

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Another favorite of mine, the pontoon bridge.

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Inside of the cave are some neat Pirates of the Caribbean tie-ins (Pintel & Ragetti) and some cool effects.

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I never really stopped to appreciate what this guy was going on about before, but it's a cool little effect.

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But there's some cool story tie-ins... He was cursed by the same gold from the first movie.

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Proper stereotype found.

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Tarzan's Treehouse is a fun thing to visit at least one time during your trip.

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Hidden reference....

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Over at the Jungle Cruise...

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This is a very different version of the Jungle Cruise than you'll find in Orlando, save for the storyline, temple, jokes, premise, location, spiel and just about everything else... But totally different.

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But there's one thing that Disneyland's Jungle Cruise has the Walt Disney World's doesn't... Piranha!

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Earlier this Summer the Matterhorn climbers returned!

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Another awesome entertainment offering at the resort that I had never seen before was the Disneyland All American College Band. We ended up seeing them four times throughout the trip and each time they played a different, awesome set.

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Dancin with Disney! is a family dance party held in the old Who Wants to be a Millionaire? soundstage, using props from different former entertainment offerings at the resort. Notice the old Tron Legacy 3D preview sign is now the marquee for this temporary offering.

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It's got the stage from the old Disney Channel Rocks! show from Paradise Park and the loungers from elecTRONica as well.

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It's fun to be free... To be on the move... To go anywhere with ever a care... To... Do all there is to be done... It's fun to be free!

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It wouldn't be a trip to Disneyland without my annual visit to the Boudin Bakery for a sourdough bread bowl.

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I'll admit, I pander a bit.

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I totally thought Gadget's Go Coaster was themed to Inspector Gadget up until this trip... No joke.

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Apparently it has some background with Chip and Dale that I totally missed.

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Pretty funny about Gadget's Go Coaster. I imagine lot's of people don't really know it's origins anymore, but it's funny that you thought it had anything to do with Inspector Gadget. One of two rides in Toon Town themed to things that really don't have much cultural context anymore.

 

I'm a big fan of Roger Rabbit, along with all the Disney cartoons of the period like Rescue Rangers, Tail Spin, Gummi Bears, Duck Tales and whatever else was on TV at the time.

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I'm somewhat relieved to find out that I'm not the only one who expected to find an Inspector Gadget theme on that ride. Thank you for all the photos. They are some of the best I've seen of the new changes.

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