Day 12 was a super duper exciting day because it was finally our California Adventure Day!
Right. I mean, every day on this trip has been a California adventure. But like, on Day 12 we visited California Adventure.
Ugh. California Adventure is a theme park in the Disneyland Resort.
Gah. Moving on.
On Day 12, we woke up…wait for it…
We woke up early. Come on guys. Keep up.
But yeah, today was an Early Entry at California Adventure, meaning the gates opened at 7AM. And also meaning we were up and out the door by 6:30.
And I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “But Wayne. Isn’t California Adventure only like a ten minute walk from your hotel. Why so early?”
Well, stupid. Because coffee.
And rather than go to the Coffee House today, we decided to hit the Starbucks on the way to the park.
It was a solid decision. On account of the amazing that IS Cascara Cold Foam.
You see kids. This was a long time ago. Long before the introduction of Nitro Cold Brew. When we had to get our Cascara Cold Foam on regular cold brew. The struggle was real.
But whatevz. Cascara Cold Foam is still one of the best things to happen to coffee since pumpkin spice.
Also I should mention the Falzones were a little late to the park. Because “Mia” was sleeping. And by “Mia,” I mean “Tony.”
So they were going to meet us a little later at the park.
Coffee in hand, we were at the gate by 6:55 and in the park by 7:02. That meant 7 whole minutes of having to figure out ways to keep Matt entertained. It was tough, but thankfully, I had a laser pointer in my pocket.
Once in the park, I secured a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers for a little later, hopeful the Falzones could grab a similar time when they got in the park. And Matt, Owen, Will, Jack, and I headed straight for Tower of Terror Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.
Being that we were so early, there was pretty much no line so we walked right into the Collectors’ exhibition.
Since there was no line, we made it through the queue pretty quickly and into the preshow. Where Rocket explained our mission to help the rest of the Guardians escape.
The ride experience of Guardians is relatively similar to Tower of Terror. Elevator goes up. Elevator drops. Elevator goes up again. Elevator drops again. But the added elements of the different music tracks (this time around we got Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”), the screen, the storyline, and the humor make this a totally different attraction. I like both this and Tower of Terror but I gotta admit – Guardians is an insanely fun ride.
After Guardians, it was over to Soarin’ as the Disneyland app was basically telling us we were idiots if we didn’t ride. On account of no line.
As you can see above, California Adventure took things old school and went back to Soarin’ Over California (from the more recently introduced Soarin’ Around the World) and we were pretty excited given we (a) have always preferred the California version, (b) thought this version tied in better with our whole California road trip, and (c) love hype. Literally, if this was changed to Soarin’ Over My Old Elementary School I would be excited about it so long as I was told to be.
But we weren’t the only ones excited. Look at the Nerneys. Everyone except Will was also excited.
While we were on Soarin’, the Falzones had made it to the park and since it was still technically before the actual 8:00AM park opening, they were able to get a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers around the same time as ours so we could all ride together.
It was time to head into Radiator Springs.
We met up with the Falzones and we still had a little bit of time before our Radiator Springs FastPass so we decided to do the two other Radiator Springs attractions. First up was Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree.
It was fun enough. Nothing mind-blowing or anything. While I don’t find it to be the worst thing I have ever experienced, I wouldn’t be upset if it went away forever.
You know, like Larry the Cable Guy.
We also hopped on Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters.
Which was…rollickin’…I guess?
But I really don’t see what this had to do with Mario’s brother. Or even plumbing in general.
Eh, whatever man. I enjoyed both of the attractions. What else was I gonna do? Stand?
But enough of all that. It was time for our Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses!
I had the “pleasure” of riding with Nickie and Laura. I mean, things started off totally fine.
But as you can see from our on-ride photo, their smiles turned to ABJECT TERROR at some point in the ride.
It was a scene, man.
And it’s had a lasting effect. Nickie still wakes up in a cold sweat on some nights screaming, “Ka-CHOW!!” Poor thing.
As we were in line for Radiator Springs Racers, I used my MaxPass to grab FastPasses for Toy Story Mania. So our next stop?
Yerp – PIXAR PIER!
And like I said, I already had a FastPass set up for Toy Story Mania.
So on went the VERY FLATTERING 3D glasses.
Seriously, we looked GOOD.
I mean, it’s still pretty much the same attraction as at Walt Disney World. But that doesn’t make it any less fun.
I unfortunately didn’t get the highest score in my car. Myles ended up besting me. But I make more money than him. So. Take that. MYLES.
When we visited last time (when it was still Paradise Pier) I never experienced the Mickey Funwheel (aka Mickey’s Wheel of Death) so I made it my mission this trip to ride what is now called the Pixar Pal-A-Round.
Matt, Tony, Myles, Owen, Will, Jack, Mia, and I chose to ride in a Swinging Car…
…while Nickie, Larissa, and Laura took a Non-Swinging car. Which was probably a good idea since Nickie didn’t really enjoy it all that much. I’m just gonna leave that there.
But even the Swinging Car. It was fine. It gave us a nice view of the park. But I definitely don’t think it earned any kind of “of death” moniker. Look if you slap “of death” on something I am about to experience, it better live up to that hype. Those aren’t the kind of words you can just throw around willy-nilly.
Now, while the Pal-A-Round was a bit of a disappointment, the Silly Symphony Swings were SO fun.
Look at Matt, even. He’s obvs posting about it on social media.
But the swings never disappoint. Such a simple attraction, but it legit always works. Yeeee!
After the swings, the Falzones had a special breakfast planned back at the Grand Californian – The Disney Princess Breakfast Adventures, which they said was amazetown.
Larissa sent a bunch of pictures showing what an incredible time they were having.
Tony also sent a picture showing what an incredible time he was having.
While they were off hanging with royalty, the rest of us continued enjoying Pixar Pier. I was able to grab an immediate FastPass for Goofy’s Sky School, which meant we could walk right on.
Which is a lot like a typical Crazy Mouse kind of roller-coaster with a higher chance of bruised internal organs. So a successful ride, obviously.
We really wanted to ride Incredicoaster next as the waits were pretty short all morning but the ride was undergoing maintenance by this time, so it was a no-go for the moment. Incredicoaster? More like…um…STUPID Incredicoaster.
Heh, nailed it.
But we still walked back in that direction as there was something else we wanted to try right near the Incredicoaster.
On the way there, we passed the Poultry Palace, which sort of just begs to get its picture taken.
But C was not for chicken today, my friends. Nor, honestly, is it ever. C was of course for cookie.
That up there is a Jack Jack Cookie Num Num chocolate chip cookie. It’s based on The Incredibles and blah blah blah giant chocolate chip cookie.
I know they have these now in Walt Disney World but this was our first time trying this little slice of heaven. Seriously, this was a dang good cookie. All big and warm and gooey. And while you could share one of these between a few people, we obviously didn’t. We each had our own. Because that’s how we roll.
And while we were sitting there, eating our cookies, I looked over and saw Mr. Incredible just sort of hanging out. I tried my best to get someone, anyone, to go with me to meet him but not everyone is as un-lame as me…so I went it alone.
I know. I am the coolest.
When I came back from my photo sesh with Mr. Incredz, the Incredicoaster opened back up which meant we could just walk right on. So Matt, Owen, and I ran over and walked right on.
I loved California Screamin’ but I didn’t think the Incredibles overlay would add all that much to the ride. But you know what? I thought it made the attraction even better. The story worked pretty well, the sound effects and music added more energy, and it was definitely cool how they worked in little touches like the smell of the cookies and the heat as you made your way through the story. It was great. We all agreed. And this doesn’t happen all that often.
Being that we were so dry and comfortable at that point, I figured it was time to change all that so I suggested we all take a spin on Grizzly River Run for our last ride before leaving the park for the afternoon. Surprisingly, everyone was dumb enough to follow my advice.
And man, we got wet. Like, the whole ride had some of us getting wet here and there as the raft spun around and soared downhill. But just in case everyone isn’t wet enough by the end, the ride basically covers your raft with a tsunami to ensure maximum drench. Not cool, Grizzly River Run. Not cool.
I guess already being wet, it made sense that we immediately left the park and went right to the pool. Well, technically, we put on our bathing suits first. And technically, we hit the hot tub first.
And technically, Mia stopped off to say hi to a friend she ran into in the lobby first.
But a bunch of us eventually made our way over to the waterslide.
As you may have noticed in the bottom right-hand corner of that picture above, the Red Monorail slide was closed. In fact, it was closed for the entirety of our stay. Which was a bummer since this is the bigger of the two slides.
I mean, the Yellow Monorail slide was fun and all. But it wasn’t the Red one.
It was the Yellow one.
For lunch, we decided to remain at the pool and have lunch at Tangaroa Terrace.
The nice thing at Tangaroa is they allow you to order off the Trader Sam’s menu while out on the patio. This includes drinks. And as you all know, I kind of really like drinks. I ordered myself a Shrunken Zombie Head.
A few at the table did end up ordering entrees, but the majority of us stuck with appetizers as our main meal. We started with some Shipwreck Nachos (Tortilla Chips, Kālua-style Pulled Pork, Hoisin Sauce, Pineapple Salsa, and Togarashi Aïoli).
The Pork Gyoza (Steamed Pork and Vegetable Pot Stickers served with Ponzu Sauce).
And some Kalua-Style Poutine (Crispy Fries topped with Kālua-style Pork, Cheese Curds, Brown Gravy, Pickled Onions, Fresno Chilies, and Cilantro).
No Kahlua to be found, but still good. In fact, all three of those appetizers along with the Shrunken Zombie Head, were definitely highlights of the meal.
However, there were some lowlights as well. The Chili Garlic Edamame…
…and the Fried Spam Musubi were a tad meh.
Overall, the meal was…fine. It was something to pass the time I suppose but I don’t think I would go out of my way to recommend it to anyone. You know, like Larry the Cable Guy.
You know what I would recommend? Always? A Miami Vice. Which I ordered, poolside, after lunch.
It’s a lot like the actual show in that if you drink too many, you will definitely get Tubbs.
And that’s no Crocket of bull.
Yeah, I know. I took it too far with that last sentence. I should have just left it at the Tubbs comment. I always take things too far.
Let’s just move on. After the pool, we all went to our respective rooms and got ready to head back into the park. And it was back out into Downtown Disney. Where Mia made some Friends.
Larissa informed me Mia already made her take the same picture earlier, but who was I to refuse? I am always looking for ways to become Mia’s favorite. This was a small step. But I think it mattered.
All throughout Downtown Disney were these abstract topiary things, which from one angle looked like Disney characters.
But from another angle looked like Disney characters I would draw after one too many Miami Vices.
Once we reached the entrance, it was like déjà vu all over again as we headed straight for Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout once again. This time because the Falzones weren’t around to experience it the first time.
This time around, our song was the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” which I contend is the best song on the attraction.
And as you can see from our on-ride photo, Mia QUITE enjoyed it.
Tony and Larissa, however. I don’t know if their faces completely give it away here, but eh they weren’t like the BIGGEST fans.
And I will let you figure out if I was as scared as this photo leads you to believe or if it was simply…
While the rest of us were on Guardians, Myles rode Radiator Springs racers again and Nickie and Laura had a drink at the Carthay Circle Lounge where Nickie claims to have had the best Cosmopolitan she’s ever had.
But being the “best Cosmo ever” is like being the “best Larry the Cable Guy movie ever.” In that the bar is pretty low.
We still had a little bit of time before dinner, so Matt, Jack, Owen, Tony, and I rode the Incredicoaster one last time.
Soon enough, it was dinner time. And dinner tonight was right across the way at Lamplight Lounge!
We put our name in and took up some space on the pier while we waited to be seated.
And we snapped a picture with this piece of trash toy.
Eventually, the hostess called the 11 of us up and informed us that we were selected to be VIPs for the night, so long as it was ok with us. For those that don’t know, “VIP” means “Very Important Person,” which is always ok with us. On account of us always being very important.
She led us into the restaurant…
…past this amazing chandelier, filled with Pixar sketches (seriously, the décor in this place was legit)….
…down the stairs, where these guys were waiting to greet us…
…past this super cool wall…
…past the bar on the right…
…and this whole wall of awesome on the left…
…and past the kitchen in the back, where this whole bit of amazing happened…
So we were brought back to this private room in back of Lamplight Lounge called The Office. As you can see, the door to the Office was set up kind of like a bank vault door and the strongest person in our group – Mia – had to turn the handle until the door lit up and let us in.
The inside was all dark reds and browns and the walls were covered with caricatures of Pixar artists.
There were also some board games (traditional games like Checkers, Chess, Backgammon, etc.) on the wall opposite the table, which Owen and Mia took pretty quick advantage of.
And. AND. We had our own private deck overlooking Pixar Pier.
Yeah, let that sink in. Our own private deck. Overlooking THIS.
To be honest, we knew about this place going in. And asked about it. But they told us there was no way to get a reservation at The Office. We just got lucky.
Seriously, I can’t put into words how excited we were to score this room. It felt like this respite of our own in the middle of California Adventure. Standing out on that deck, drink in hand, watching the Incredicoaster take off, was magical.
OK, maybe we weren’t completely alone. Mia made a few friends.
But we weren’t there just to sit around and be very important people. We can AND DO do that every day. We were there to EAT.
Well, first to DRINK. I started with a Park Ave. (Redemption Rye Whiskey, Aperol, Dolin Rouge Vermouth, and Bitter Truth Chocolate Bitters).
Again with the flavored bitters. Stop with the being awesome, Disney. Seriously you guys. This was a tasty drink.
I didn’t get a picture of everyone’s drink, but I did snap a pic of Myles’s Infinity Fizz (Powerade Mountain Berry Blast, Apple Juice and Cherry Pearls) because he just seemed so darn happy about it.
And of course we started with some starters. I mean, it’s right in the name.
We got the deviled eggs and toast, which were some of the best deviled eggs I have ever had. And the addition of the toast and pickled vegetables made it all the more yumtown.
We also got the famed Cove Bar Lobster Nachos. Do you even have to ask if they were good? They’re lobster nachos, idiot.
And yes, these were our SECOND nachos of the day.
And dude. Check OUT these potato skins.
I know what you’re wondering. And the answer is yes. We got donuts. Warm AND fluffy. Donuts. They’re not for dessert anymore.
Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you asked if that was enough food. I mean, I still needed an entrée. But in order to enjoy my entrée, I needed a tasty beverage to wash it down. So I got the Pizza Port Amber Ale, which helped to continue the hint of chocolate theme in my drinks for the night. I REALLY liked this beer.
And fine. I didn’t eat an entire entrée. I split mine with Nickie. We ordered the Chicken Sandwich (crispy Chicken Breast with Spicy Chili Sauce, Vinegar Slaw, Pineapple Butter, Pickles, and Toasted Amish Bun served with Malted Fries.)
What an amazing dinner. Everything was delicious, from the drinks to the starters to the chicken sandwich that I said I split with Nickie but she hardly ate so I ate the whole thing pretty much by myself.
Whatever, save your judging for Judy.
And back to that private deck for a second. We hit what was probably THE BEST time to be in The Office, because we got to watch night fall over Pixar Pier throughout the meal.
I was obviously having a hard time NOT taking pictures.
But as you can see, it was getting late. So we unfortunately had to leave The Office and the Lamplight Lounge. But thanks, Lamplight Lounge, for a truly memorable meal.
Our bellies full, we ventured back out into the night.
A good number of us headed back to the hotel but Nickie and I stayed back at the park with Owen, Myles, and Jack. Owen wanted to get this Sorcerer Mickey shake and Myles and Jack wanted to get at least one more ride in.
I saw on my Maxpass I could get an immediate FastPass for another ride on Goofy’s Sky School. Nickie graciously offered to walk all the way back to Schmoozie’s to try and make Owen’s frozen dreams come true. I in turn offered to once again risk a bruised kidney on Goofy’s Sky School with the boys.
I did end up preferring the coaster at night. It was a nice view of Pixar Pier from the top and the darkness made those high hairpin turns a little more terrifying.
After exiting Goofy’s Sky School, we all met Nickie down near Carthay Circle to walk back out into Downtown Disney. And as we were heading towards the park exit, we had a pretty stellar view of the fireworks at Disneyland Park, which was a welcome surprise.
To be honest, last time we visited California Adventure we had fun but it was a bit underwhelming compared to Disneyland Park. But this day was non-stop wonderful from beginning to end. Blargh, I wanna go back.
But that does it for Day 12. Day 13 brings our – womp – last day at Disneyland but there are still a good amount of vacation days left and some more friends to see. See you then!