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Archive for the ‘Theme Parks’ Category

A week before the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure with the new Carsland and Buena Vista Street areas, Disney gave annual pass holders the opportunity to attend a special preview weekend of the new areas.

Of course my friends and I jumped at the chance (despite, for me, a red eye flight later that evening to a family vacation…I’m a little insane/bad about cramming too much fun into short periods of time…)

We showed up at 7 am, got our special event wristbands and got in line. I think choosing the earliest window (8am- 12pm) was actually a great thing because DCA didn’t open to the public until 10am and we had the park to ourselves for the first couple hours.

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(AP’s in a holding pattern at Carthay Circle before they walked us down to Carsland)

They also chose the best possible entrance into Carsland- walking in literally felt like the rest of the park melted away and you were walking in the desert into Radiator Springs. The mountain ranges are breathtaking. Really, the whole area feels like you’re walking around the film. While my group is not a bunch of Cars-haters, it’s not at the top of our Pixar list and we were in LOVE with this new part of the park.

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A quick rundown of the rides:

Radiator Springs Racers- the track will remind frequent visitors of Walt Disney World of Test Track, but the ride is definitely different. The imagineers really went all out to make you feel like you’re moving through the film and all the characters you come across look fantastic. My car was cracking up by the time we got to the race – big smiles for big fun!

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Luigi’s Flying Tires- I’d heard these hovering tires were a bit difficult to steer before we got there, but we didn’t have TOO bad a time on them. I actually really really enjoyed this ride (we had time to go twice) – I think having large parties for this one helps because you spend your time chasing bright white, red and green beach balls to peg the other people with!

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Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree – we were excited for this ride because the tractor tipping part of the movie makes us laugh. Going in, it seemed like this would be more of a “kiddie” ride but those tractors really whip you around the circles! I was getting slammed into the side of the car much more than I anticipated.

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We weren’t super hungry so ended up not trying out Flo’s V8 Cafe (though we did walk in to check out the menu…YUM!) but we did take some time to stop by the Cozy Cone Motel and get some snacks! We also got some souvenir traffic cone cups that are REALLY neat, but that I failed to get a picture of.

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We might wait a bit to come back now that it’s open, as the first couple weeks of crowds are bound to be awful. But this whole part of the park is fantastic and I’m sure we’ll be spending a LOT of time here in the future.

Next up…on to Buena Vista Street!

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I am SOOOO excited for Brave, you guys. SO. EXCITED. It comes out on June 22nd, but luckily, Pixar’s newest princess Merida, and all the fun of the Scottish Highlands have already arrived at Disneyland. And on one of our group trips a couple weeks ago we got to MEET her!! (Seriously, it’s sad how excited about this I was. It was the driving force of my afternoon.) Brave has set up shop right across from It’s A Small World. Before meeting Merida, you have the opportunity to discover which clan you’re in, color and play a mini game or two.

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Then, it’s time to meet Merida herself!

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While you’re meeting Merida you also have the chance to see 3 wee beat cubs who’ve tagged along. They are REALLY adorable, and pay attention (or purposefully ignore) the cameras. A new friend informed me (for the curious) that they’re actually PUPPETS, each controlled by an individual person. I was seriously amazed.

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Finally, you get to try your hand at a little archery lesson. This was somewhat harder than I thought it would be, since they hold the bow with you (to discourage shenanigans) which makes aiming and getting your arm in the right position a little tricky.

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At least for me…Jeremy got a bullseye! Can’t wait til we go back to say hello again! The lines weren’t terrible and we definitely didn’t take full advantage of the activities.

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A couple weeks ago, my sister and her friend came to California for their spring break. While I didn’t get to participate in their full week of LA festivities, we DID spend the first weekend of their visit at Disneyland in full-on tourist mode.

Jen’s friend had never been to California or any Disney parks, so for the first time in pretty much forever (and especially since my CP days when I learned how to run around the parks like a crazy person) we did Disney the super touristy way. And it was SO. MUCH. FUN.

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We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel (which has recently finished a huge remodel) on Saturday night so we could make the most of our two days at the parks- including the Extra Magic Hour you get when staying on property.

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This turned out to be a HUGE blessing, since not only is it a great hotel, but it down poured most of Saturday and it was really helpful to have a place to go dry off and recharge in the middle of the afternoon. (We seriously used the hair dryer on our clothes and filled to tub with hot water to warm our frozen feet.)

The rain chased most of the crowds away, so we actually ended up seeing most of both parks.

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Surprisingly, there weren’t long lines for Splash Mt on a rainy day

Sunday, we started off the day with some Fantasyland rides and then The Plaza Inn character breakfast with Minnie and friends! I love character meals and it had been way way too long since the last time I’d been to one. Nothing says breakfast like Mickey waffles!!

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Max loooooved us

Finally, since it was Jen’s birthday, and Jessa’s first visit, I took the opportunity to use a Disney service I’d never tried before- their gift basket service! I called a couple of days in advance of our arrival and they brought the (somewhat customizable) baskets right to our hotel room!

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We had a great weekend- it was so fun taking things a little slower and taking part in some of the things we tend to skip when we’re dashing around the park at light-speed 🙂

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