I own season passes to most of the major park chains, but the most surprising season pass that I own may very well be Disneyland considering I live almost 3,000 miles away. But when I realized I'd be on the west coast roughly every quarter for work (well pre-coronavirus), I could justify the cost of the flex passport.
There were two new things for me on this particular trip- Star Wars Rise of the Resistance and the Magic Happens parade.
I had already ridden Star Wars Rise of the Resistance in Orlando, so I was familiar with the ride and process to get an early boarding pass. On a few of my visits, I happened to snag the first boarding group of the day!
Social distancing wasn't yet a thing in late February.
I didn't know they actually used Group 1!
One of the days, we had a boarding group in the mid-60s and Rise of the Resistance was having an absolutely awful day. Every time we would walk over to the ride, it would breakdown. Eventually we were able to catch it after an extended afternoon closure and much to my shock, all the effects were running.
I already posted a detailed review of the ride in the Hollywood Studios report (Here), so go there if you want the spoilers. But from a high level, this is quite simply the world's best themed dark ride and Disney's crowning achievement. The level of immersion is incredible.
The Resistance were having some issues processing recruits. I blame the Jawas.
We ended up seeing the Magic Happens parade on its second day and lucked into a great spot behind a trash can near It's a Small World. We also purposefully planned to see the parade at night and we were quite pleased with our decision once we saw how colorful the floats were.
The parade was excellent. I loved the float designs. The music was catchy. And the walkaround characters interacted with guests in the front row.
Mickey would totally beat Harry Potter in a duel.
I also rediscovered my love of Fantasmic. On my past visits, I've been crammed shoulder to shoulder in the FastPass so I haven't had the best vantage point. This time I realized I could get a better spot using Standby if I waited for the second show. I especially loved this standing spot to the left of the dining area where you had a clear view of the left water screen (which was far clearer than the middle screen) and a front row view of the boats.
Fantasmic was already my favorite theme park show, but I realized just how amazing the visuals were when I had a front row view. It's the perfect way to end a visit with that catchy soundtrack, the flashy effects, and all the characters.
Mickey blows his load.
Fantasmic has more colors than a rainbow.
Mouse versus dragon. Who will win?
I've never had such a clear view of the boat.
One of the other highlights was marathoning Splash Mountain without getting off. I always wondered if Disney would allow rerides, but the answer is yes there's absolutely no one in line. And that was the case for Splash Mountain on a cold, rainy night when temperatures dropped into the 40s.
Californias still flocked to Splash Mountain by day.
But Slinky and I had the mountain all to ourselves at night.
And sometimes I was able to convince a local to join me.
Last but not least, Space Mountain had been running the Hyperspace Mountain overlay in my past few visits. While enjoyable, I prefer the standard Space Mountain. Thankfully it was back in its former glory so I could enjoy the Michael Giacchino score while zooming through space.
40 minute posted wait. Let's see how long I actually wait.
Needless to say, I walked right onto Space Mountain.
And I found this weird creature.
But we quickly became friends.
Beyond those highlights, I spent the day riding through the park's other mountains, reliving classic films, and stuffing my face with food.
New ride credit for me!
Big Thunder's finale was down on my last visit, so it was great to see it running again!
Indiana Jones was celebrating his 25th anniversary of rescuing tourists who can't follow one simple instruction- Don't Look into Mara's Eyes!
The portable hole is still one of my all-time favorite effects.
You're not you when you're hungry. Snickers satisfies.
It's a Small World teaches young boys how to rub their cock.
Seeing Pooh stuff his face with honey made me hungry.
Slinky was begging for the Monte Cristo.
I had never been to Bengal Barbecue, but I can definitely say I'll be returning. I love meat on a stick!
I escaped the First Order's quarantine and explroed Batuu after dark.
It was nice exploring the land without the crowds.
Haunted Mansion was closed for refurbishment and still scaring guests with this ominous wait time.
Goofy looks upon the castle with envy and gives Mickey the one finger salute.
For the past few years, I had considered Tokyo Disneyland my favorite park in the world. But after these visits, I think I now give the edge back to the original Disneyland. Rise of the Resistance and the ability to rapidly accumulate FastPasses with MaxPass tip the scales in my opinion.
Disney California Adventure is a park of E-tickets for me. I much prefer the original Disneyland for the quantity and charm, but the top end attractions at this park rival any Disney park in my opinion.
This is one of the most iconic views of any theme park. And for good reason!
Take Guardians of the Galaxy for example. This may be an unpopular opinion, but this is my favorite drop tower in the world. Yes, that means that I'll take this over the Tower of Terrors in Orlando and Tokyo.
I agree that it isn't quite as strong thematically, but the Guardians theme is still very well done and this ride is just pure fun. I love the ride sequence on this version. It's action-packed from start-to-finish and the different songs add quite a bit of reridability in my opinion. 10 out of 10
Guardians may be an eyesore by day, but the building comes alive at night.
An Alien Encounter reference! X-S Tech.
Look at Slinky get some serious airtime!
But I think the crowd favorite is Radiator Springs Racers, which is one of the best dark rides in the world. The Cars Land in general is the park's best area. The amount of detail here is stunning and there's a reason it's considered one of the best themed lands in the world. And this coming from someone who wasn't a big fan of the Cars films.
As for Radiator Springs Racers, I'm always left in awe at the scale of the exterior rockwork and interior animatronics. And that visual amazement is accompanied by a high-speed, racing finale that may not have the speed of Test Track, but it has a few coaster-like drops. 10 out of 10
If you have a fetish for rocks, you'll cream yourself at Cars Land.
Twisted Colossus looks on with jealousy as it sees a ride successfully race.
Like a good neighbor, Mater is there!
Lines like that are why I dislike the Cars franchise.
Sometimes you just need to let the dog stick his head out the window.
One of the most iconic rides at the park is the Incredicoaster, which is one of the longest roller coasters in the world. This may be underthemed relative to most Disney coasters, but the ride is a nice change-of-pace from the highly themed experiences you get elsewhere on the resort. It's just an overall solid roller coaster with a decent launch, some airtime, and a forceful vertical loop. 8 out of 10
Pixar Pier's lighting is gorgeous.
I'd say I got lucky with timing on the Pixar Pal-Around, but Incredicoaster dispatches trains so quickly it would have been more noteworthy if I caught no trains.
Incredicoaster says hello to all those parking at Downtown Disney.
Mr. Incredble decided to try on my Slinky hat.
Buried underneath the structure of the Incredicoaster is Toy Story Mania, my favorite shooting dark ride in the world. The shooting system is super addictive. And by riding this several times over the course of a week, I was able to find all a few hidden targets to really up my score (and destroy my biceps). 10 out of 10
Slinky looks at himself in admiration.
I was also able to see the original World of Color after having not seen this version of the show in years. It had either been down for maintenance or running a holiday overlay. And while the show is enjoyable, I much prefer Fantasmic at the other park.
Classic Disney songs are never a bad thing!
My visit also coincided with the Food and Wine Festival. This had two pluses to the park. The first was the return of Soarin' Over California. And I'm torn which version of Soarin' I prefer. Both versions have their pros and cons, but both have some visually stunning scenes.
The festival also had a ton of "quick" service stands added throughout the park. I say "quick" lightly since the queues to place an order at these stands were massive. Because of this, I only sampled two items.
The first was the most Californian dish ever- deep fried avocado drizzled in guacamole. And it was fantastic. I love avocados, so I was in heaven. And the carne asada added to the dish gave it some variety.
The second was a chicken and waffle sandwich. And I'm sad to say it was terrible. It was as unappetizing as it looked. The chicken was dry and the waffle wasn't even as good as an Eggo waffle.
I loved this dish so much, I got it two additional times.
I hated this dish so much I tried to burn it out of my mind.
Disney California Adventure has undergone quite the facelift since it originally opened. And these changes have elevated the park into a very enjoyable park. And that will only continue with the opening of the Marvel themed land later this year (hopefully) when this pandemic subsides.
Slinky is definitely an award winning wiener.
Either Disney has the most accurate way to estimate the line for Goofy's Sky School or the app glitched.
I'm going with a glitch since Grizzly's queue was posted as this:
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