Disneyland and D23 Expo August 8-13, 2013

I think this is my first trip report. Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy it.

Disneyland and D23 Expo Aug 8-13, 2013
Hotel: Best Western Park Place Inn
Joined by friends Sharon and her daughter Brielle (age 7) from Aug 10 (8pm) to Aug 13 (5:30 am) and Suzanne on Aug 11

Aug 8
Uneventful flights from PHL to PHX and PHX to SNA. Cab ride to the hotel was $37 plus tip. Weather was sunny, 81 degrees and a very pleasant breeze. Hotel was fine. Best asset was its location to Disneyland (DL). It is on Harbor Blvd right at the crosswalk to the DL entrance. Worst feature was my view of a cement wall of the building next door. Free breakfast buffet was decent. The refrigerator wasn’t working until I figured out on Sat. that it just wasn’t turned on. AC also wasn’t working for a similar reason - it was set to heat rather than cool…you would think that this was my first time in a hotel room but in fact I travel for business nearly every week. I arrived at DL at approximately 12:30 pm and purchased a premier pass good for one year at both DL and WDW. In addition to this trip, I already have another trip to WDW with Sharon scheduled for Nov 2013 to run the wine and dine half marathon and with this pass I will probably make 1-2 more visits before it expires next Aug. Yes, I am a Disney nerd.

I entered DL and got a Fast Pass (FP) for Star Tours. I then went to Disney California Adventure (DCA) wanting Grizzly River Rapids (GRR) to be my first ride of the trip but it was closed. I went to Soarin for the single rider line but was told that it could be up to an hour wait so I skipped it. Next was the Garden Grill for lunch...chicken skewers with Tzatziki sauce and a Sam Adams. This is a great place for lunch. The food is good and there is a huge outdoor seating area in which my experience there is never a problem finding a table. I went back to GRR but it was still closed so it was back to Soarin for a FP. Cars Land was next. I rode Radiator Springs Racer (RSR) using the single rider line. I was told that it would be about 35 min and it took almost exactly 35 min. Standby time was posted as 120 min. As I got off the ride, the woman who sat next to me gave me an extra FP good for immediate use so I rode it again. Great ride but I lost the race both times. I liked the tractor tipping scene and didn't remember it from last Aug.

Then it was back to DL. I picked up a FP for Indy and then headed to the Splash Mt single rider line. 20 minute wait. Standby time was posted as 80 min. Right before the 2nd small drop the ride stopped and the lights came on. Then an announcement that there was a log jam up ahead and the ride would be unable to continue and a captain would be with us shortly. Within 5 minutes a cast member came to escort us off. We got out of the log one at a time and then she led us along the flume trough for a little bit and then to a staircase that led to a backstage area where there was another cast member waiting to give everyone what was essentially a FP that was good for up to 6 people and that we could use on any ride of our choice except for the Matterhorn. Fun!

Then it was off to Star Tours to use my FP. I love this ride but always hope that Jar Jar Binks won't show up, but he did on this ride. Then I rode Space Mt using my bonus FP from Splash Mt. Then back to DCA. It was only a little past 4:30 but I got caught in a throng of people leaving DL as a parade was just ending. I grabbed a banana and a Dasani upon entering DCA and then went to use my Soarin FP. It has been about 11 years since I first rode it. It still makes me happy that people clap at the end of it. Next was GRR which was now open. I got wet but not soaked. Not sure why I love this ride so much but I do. It's better than the typical rapids ride but I wouldn't call it spectacular. I was wet enough that I wanted to change into dry clothes so I did the short walk back to the hotel.

After a quick shower and a change of clothes it was back to DCA. I had dinner at the Carthay Circle bar with a delicious lobster pad Thai roll and a cocktail. Then back to DL to use my Indy FP. Not bad for the first day. I headed back to the hotel around around 8:30. Still on east coast time.

Aug 9
I was in line for the D23 expo at 8:15…a sea of people even bigger than in 2011. I passed the time by talking with the woman behind me and the family in front of me. Both were DVC members and were trying to talk me into purchasing a membership. They were very convincing, and it’s something I’ve thought about doing, but think I will still refrain. I got into the convention center at 10 and was in another line for the Hong Kong DL Mystic Manor presentation at 10:05. Very Interesting. Basically the attraction is based on the house of Lord Henry Mystic. He is a world traveler and collector of artifacts from his travels. His house is a display of his artifacts that are organized by region (Chinese, Mediterranean, Egyptian, etc.). The ride begins in his archiving room where his pet monkey Albert, who is a little mischievous, opens up a music box and unleashes some sort of magic dust. The rest of the ride takes us through each room to see the havoc that is unleashed by the magic dust. Hong Kong Disneyland is at the bottom of my list of Disney parks to visit, but this looks like an awesome attraction and the park looks like a beautiful place.

The session started at 10:30 and was out at 11:35 and I immediately got in line for the 12:30 Undiscovered Disneyland to find out that the line was already huge. I made it into the session…lots of fun video footage from early DL. There was footage of a themed area named Holidayland that I knew nothing about. It was located where New Orleans Square now stands. It had a separate entrance and had attractions like sliding boards and potato sack races. The hosts implied that it was for people who wanted to say they took their kids to DL without actually having to deal with the expenses of a real DL trip.

I then went down to the main floor and wandered around a bit but didn't see anything that really captured my attention so I left around 2. I walked back to the hotel for a brief rest and was back at DCA by 3. Lunch at Pacific Wharf...chicken with spicy Korean sauce and a Sapporo. I then went to Cars Land to buy a hat and then of course ended up in line for RSR. The single rider line was about 30 minutes. I then headed to GRR. It was closed again but they were cycling rafts through the course. Cast members said they didn't know how long it would be but I decided to wait. Within 15 minutes it was reopened and I got to ride in a raft with a lovely family of 5. I don’t mind being a single rider, but GRR is sometimes a little awkward if everyone else is part of the same party except for me. I feel like I’m intruding on their private time. It doesn’t stop me from riding it though, or impact my fun.

It was then back to DL. I picked up a FP for Star Tours and then headed to the Matterhorn. The line was long but there was a single rider line which I don't think I knew about. I was told that it would be a 20 minute wait and turns out to be 15. Great ride. Then to Splash Mt but the single rider line was longer than I've ever seen it so I decided to skip it. Haunted Mansion standby line was posted at 20 min so I decided to ride that. I checked the weather while waiting in line...77 degrees…a second awesome day of weather. Haunted Mansion was classic as always. Next was Pirates with a posted wait of 10 min…another great ride.

I was then off to Uva bar in DTD for a cocktail. I enjoyed a nice drink and nice weather listening to fun songs like Cher's Take Me Home and Village People's Macho Man. After stopping for a Wetzels Pretzel it was back to DL to use my Star Tours FP...please no Jar Jar Binks I prayed! Jar Jar did show up but so did Darth Vader so it was all good. I also saw Yoda for the first time on this ride, I think. It was also the most screaming-est group of people that I ever have experienced on that ride which made it all that more exciting.

Then I went to the Jungle Cruise which had about a 20 minute wait. I always love the Jungle Cruise at night. The skipper wasn't the best but it was still a fun ride. Right before getting on the Jungle Cruise I realized that I left my red DL baseball hat on Star Tours. This is the first DL hat I ever bought in 2002 (I think). I left it last year on Space Mt and went back and they found it for me. I went back to Star Tours after getting off the Jungle Cruise and they found it for me again. I guess I'm not meant to be separated from that hat. That was it for that night. I was back at the hotel around 9:30.

August 10
I was in line for DL at 7:15 after deciding that I needed to hit a few rides before heading to the expo. They opened the gates at 7:30 but we needed to stay on Main St. until 8. I headed straight to Splash Mt which wasn't running yet. The cast member said it would hopefully be open in 10 min so I decided to wait. They opened the line at 8:20 and I was on the 2nd log of the day. I made it all the way thru the ride. Yay! Matterhorn was next with a 2 min wait in the single rider line. Loved it again but track A (left track) seemed a little more rough than track B (right track) was the day before. Next I got a FP for Star Tours even though there really wasn't a line for it and then went over to Space Mt with a 5 min wait. I felt a little woozy afterwards...too much motion in too short of a time but I decided to forge ahead and do Star Tours with a posted wait of 10 min. No Jar Jar Binks! Yay! When I got off the window for my Star Tours FP had opened but given how I was feeling I decided not to ride it again.

I then headed to the expo arriving at 10. I was inside by a little after 10:30 and then got into another line to get a FP for the noon Charles Phoenix show. Charles Phoenix is a humorist who I have never heard of but he was doing a retro DL slide show which seemed like something I would enjoy.

Before the session I wandered around the collector’s forum looking at all the vendors and their stuff for sale…lots of pins and artwork. There were 3 official Disney gift shops within the expo, all of which had very long lines. I bought some clothes at the 2011 expo that haven't left my closet in 2 years so I already had decided to refrain from buying anything but I would have enjoyed to look if the lines had been shorter. Charles Phoenix was hilarious and the slide show was great, especially seeing all of the retro hotels, some of which are still open and gave me ideas for future visits (Alpine Inn, Candy Cane Inn, Stovall's Inn).

That was it for me and the expo so it was back to DCA. I was glad to attend the expo again but really think that I am done with it. Two years ago I attended all of the arena shows and felt overwhelmed by the amount of time spent standing in line. This time I avoided the arena shows and focused on some of the smaller events but still felt like I was spending all of my time moving from one line to another. If I'm spending my time in lines, I think I'd rather be doing it at DL.

Back at DCA I had lunch in Paradise Pier of a mushroom flatbread and a Peroni. The weather at 2:45 was 79, sunny and awesome. California Screamin was next. With a 10 min standby wait I decided not to go for a FP or the single rider line. Next was another ride on GRR single rider line. I rode with a lovely family of 6 Asian women all of whom I think got wetter than me. Then after 11 years I discovered a nice pathway through GRR that drops you out near the bathrooms between GRR and Little Mermaid. I thought it was a shortcut to that area until I saw that the 6 women from the raft were already over there when I got over.

Since I was fairly near the winery I thought it was time for an overpriced glass of wine so I had a nice Pinot Grigio. Then it was back to RSR single rider line. I think I'm getting into a rut! I waited about 20 min for RSR and then went to Tower of Terror (ToT) with about a 10 minute wait. There was a little boy in the row in front of me who seemed way too young to ride, despite being tall enough. I was certain that he would have a meltdown but he was ok.

It was almost 5 and I was starting to suffer from theme park fatigue. I didn't want to burn out for my next 2 days with Sharon and Brielle. There was a Pixar parade about to start so I decided to grab a seat and watch it. Unlike the DL parades, there was no problem at all in finding a spot at the last minute to watch it…cute parade but certainly no classic. That was it for the parks. It was back to the hotel for some relaxation. Sharon and Brielle arrived around 8. We hung out for a bit and then went over to the parks and watched the fireworks from just outside the DL gates. Then it was back to the hotel for bed.

Aug 11

Since I was spending time with Sharon, Brielle, and Suzanne my report became a little more condensed. Sharon, Brielle, and I arrived at DL around 7:30 am. The lines waiting to get in were a little long but a cast member saw us with our stroller and pointed us to a line for strollers and wheelchairs that no one was standing in. We went over to that line and were among the first people in the park when it opened shortly before 8.

We went to Peter Pan and were on the third ship of the day. The line for this ride builds very quickly so it was our strategy to ride it first.
Space Mt
Autopia - I was riding behind Sharon and Brielle. Brielle was steering and Sharon had control of the brakes/gas. She was waving to the people passing by on the monorail and bumped the car in front of her.

Finding Nemo Submarines
Storybook Land Canal Boats
Tea Cups - some mild to moderate spinning took place.
Alice in Wonderland
Buzz Lightyear - I like this ride but am horrible at it. My score was about 55k. Sharon had over 200k.
Splash Mt (walk on)
Haunted Mansion

Suzanne arrived around 11. We met at Indy and got FPs for it. We then went to the canoes. I have never ridden these, or at least have no memory of riding them, so I made it a point of riding them on this trip. I enjoyed it. It was a little bit of exercise but nothing too strenuous.
Splash Mt
Indy - at Suzanne's request we waited for her to ride this. She normally comes with her nieces and nephews and doesn't often get the chance to ride some of the bigger rides.

Lunch at Tomorrowland Terrace. I had the chicken sandwich with guacamole. It was tasty.
Roger Rabbit - I used to actually enjoy this ride but I think I'm crossing it off of My To Do list. I don't know what changed, but it was way too long of a line for an underwhelming ride.
Space Mt. - Suzanne had to leave after this. It was too short of a visit but I was glad to see her. We walked with her out of the park and then headed to DCA.

Our next stop was Ghiradelli ice cream. I had a scoop of espresso chip with sprinkles. Brielle had a milkshake and Sharon had a sundae. Both looked better than mine. I took a couple of bites of Sharon's to confirm!
California Screamin - now that Brielle is getting older she is able to ride more rides. This is her new favorite and I love it too.
Pixar Play Parade - I got to see this parade twice. I wasn't even expecting to see it once.
Weather at 5:25: 81, sunny, and a pleasant breeze. Perfect!

Little Mermaid - Sharon and I agree that this ride lacks something. Some of the animatronics are very high tech while others seem sort of cheap. They don't really blend well together. Plus from a story telling perspective it seems to lack something. There needs to be one more scene to better establish the conflict before they live happily ever after. Still though, it's a pleasant enough ride.
Redwood Creek Trail - first time ever doing this attraction and I enjoyed it! There were a series of rope bridges that were somewhat challenging for someone uncoordinated like me but I did it!

Tower of Tower - Brielle took a little coaxing but she enjoyed it.
We had a light dinner in the Carthay Circle bar. I had a Hendricks martini and Vietnamese tacos…very tasty. I also tried Sharon's flatbread pizza that was also tasty. She also had a pear martini and Brielle had a small bowl of pasta.

Goofy's Flying School (at night – Brielle wanted me to specifically point out that we did a night ride on this) - there are no brakes on the switchback portion at the top which makes for a fun ride.
World of Color - we were in the front row splash zone and got wet. As Sharon said, it definitely made us feel like we were part of the show. I'm glad I did it but don't know if I need to be quite that close in the future.
Silly Symphony Swings - rode them at some point on this day but I can't remember exactly when.

After World of Color we were part of the sea of people leaving DCA. We paused a little bit to watch the fireworks going off at DL. We got to the parks at 8 am and left around 9:45 PM.

Aug 12
I started the day riding Radiator Springs Racers with Brielle while Sharon waited for RSR FPs. Up until last summer, most people started their day at DCA by rushing to Toy Story Mania since it was the most popular ride in the park and does not offer FP. Now that Cars Land is open, most people start their day by either rushing to the RSR line, or getting into a separate line for RSR FPs, since they are usually all gone by around 11 AM.
Toy Story Mania was next - this ride is easier to score points on than Buzz but I'm still not very good at it. I got to 100k which is my benchmark for success, although a very low one. Sharon at least doubled my score.
California Screamin

Mickey's Fun Wheel. - We rode in a stationary car rather than a swinging one as the line for swinging cars was way too long. I remember when no one came to this park and you could walk right on to practically anything. It was now just past 10:05 am which meant that another RSR FP window had opened for us. We wanted to do RSR at night so I headed over to the RSR FP line and got 3 more FPs with a return time of 8:15-9:15 PM, so we would get our wish. While I was doing this Sharon and Brielle rode Goofy's Flying School and the Silly Symphony Swings.

We met back at RSR and rode it using the FPs that Sharon picked up at the start of the day. We then went to ride the Monsters Inc. ride but the line was too long. The Muppets attraction was closed so we went to Tower of Terror. Unlike yesterday, Brielle needed no coaxing to ride this again. Following this I went to get Soarin FPs for all of us and Sharon and Brielle went to Flo's V8 cafe for lunch where I met them a few minutes later. I had a lunch of turkey, mashed potatoes, baked beans, cranberry sauce, and a red trolley ale. It was all very tasty.

Little Mermaid
Weather at 2:15 was 81 and sunny but no breeze- this was the first day that I was actually sweating and was a bit uncomfortable. It lasted for about all of an hour before the weather returned to the perfect state that it was for the rest of the trip.

Monorail round trip – It’s not a complete trip to DL without a ride on the monorail.
Winnie the Pooh
Splash Mt
Buzz - I think I got to 88k points as opposed to Sharon's 250k.
Space Mt

We decided to head back to DCA but as we were leaving, Mickey's Soundsational Parade was about to start so we decided to have a seat and watch it. It was a very good parade and I was glad that we took the time to stop and watch it. After that we headed back to DCA.

Silly Symphony Swings
Another stop at Ghiradelli for ice cream for Sharon and Brielle. I grabbed a beer from the cart on the wharf and caught up with them.
RSR - this was our night ride using the FPs that I got earlier. Not surprisingly, the ride is a little more fun at night. The darkness makes it seem that the ride is moving a little faster. This was my 7 and last ride on RSR for the trip. I rode it more than any other ride in either park. While I don’t think it’s my favorite ride, I really do enjoy it, and it still has the appeal of being new, which is why I think it was at the top of my list.

Sharon and Brielle shopped for pins while I went to the Cozy Cones and got a chicken verde cone which I enjoyed very much.
Luigi's flying tires - there was a short wait. Why did they make this ride so hard to steer?!

We went back to DL to use a star tours FP that we got at some point earlier in the day. We entered DL as the fireworks were starting. We went to Buzz first. I was hoping to top my score from earlier in the day but fell short with about 85k. Last ride of the night was Star Tours. We entered DCA at 7:30 am and left DL around 10:15 PM. Not a bad day!

Aug 1
After seeing Sharon and Brielle off at 5:30 AM, I went to DCA and entered around 7:30. I went to Starbucks and had an iced vanilla latte and bacon and Gouda sandwich.
I then went to DL for my final rides.

Matterhorn – While waiting in the single rider line there were a brother and sister in front of me about 8-10 years old. By coincidence, they saw their father in the standby line and when the father got to the front of the line he pointed to his kids and told the cast member that they were going to ride with him. The cast member explained that since they were in the single rider line they wouldn’t be able to do that. The guy then said again that they were his kids and they were coming with him, so the cast member let them through. The guy was ticked off for the cast member originally saying no, and he asked the cast member for his name, which he showed the guy on his name tag. The guy was implying that he was going to report the cast member, which I thought was a bit ridiculous since to me it seemed as though the cast member handled the situation completely fine. In hindsight, I wished that I had gotten the cast member’s name so that I could have reported how well he handled the situation. This was the only time during the trip that I saw any type of negative interaction with a cast member.

Splash Mt – I got totally soaked! Unlike all of my previous 5 rides on it during this trip, I was not dressed to get wet. I never really got all that wet on any of the previous rides, so I wasn’t expecting it to be a problem. I was wrong. I was put into the front row and I came off the ride totally wet. This turned out to be my last ride of the trip. It was 8:45 AM and I wasn’t leaving for the airport until 10:30 AM but I decided that I needed to go back to the hotel to change into dry clothes and throw the wet ones into the dryer. Not the best way to end the trip, but I still had a great time as usual.

Below is my total ride count:

Radiator Springs Racer 7

Grizzly River Rapids 6
Splash Mt 6

Matterhorn 5

Space Mt 5
Star Tours 4

California Screamin 3
Tower of Terror 3

Buzz Lightyear 3
Soarin 2
Indiana Jones 2
Silly Symphony Swings 2
Haunted Mansion 2
Pirates of the Caribbean 2

Little Mermaid 2
Jungle Cruise 1
Peter Pan 1
Autopia 1
Finding Nemo Submarines 1
Storybook Land Canal Boats 1
Tea Cups 1
Alice in Wonderland 1
Canoes 1
Roger Rabbit's Toontown Spin 1
Redwood Creek Trail 1
Goofy's Flying School 1
Toy Story Midway Mania 1
Mickey's Fun Wheel 1
Monorail 1
Winnie The Pooh 1
Luigi's Flying Tires 1

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