I knew one day I would eventually get to California and Disneyland. Even though I have been to Disneyworld many times, I have wanted to get to Disneyland when I found out it was different from the Florida Magic Kingdom from playing games like Adventures in the Magic Kingdom on NES where there was Autopia instead of the Grand Prix Raceway or going over to a friend's house and playing a Disneyland board game and seeing that there were different lands like Critter Country and New Orleans Square. More recently, I wanted to get there to try all the different attractions that were never in Florida or are no longer in Florida.
We left on June 15th and stayed at a Holiday Inn around 15 minutes from the Newark Airport. They had a good deal where a room was under $200 with parking the entire time we were away compared to paying $18 a day to park at the airport.
The next morning we got to the airport early. This was my first time flying since 2000 and I wasn't sure how great the 6 hour flight would be considering the longest flights I had taken before that were to Orlando and Chicago. After about 3 hours into the flight I was just ready to get there. After taking a shuttle bus to the rental car area, we got our car for the next 10 days and drove to The Grand Californian Hotel for dinner at Storytellers Cafe.
It was strange driving past the parks to get to the hotel seeing rides like the Mattehorn and Tower of Terror when at Disney World everything is far away from the main roads. When in the park, it wasn't noticeable though.
After dinner and walking around the hotel, we drove to our hotel for the next 5 nights, a Residence Inn about 10 minutes away from Disneyland.
Friday morning we drove over to the parks. I expected to park in a parking garage near the park but they were diverting traffic back around to the Garden Walk. I had heard about it online and it meant having to go back almost close to where the hotel was, wait to get into a non Disney owned garage, park and then have to wait in line for a shuttle bus to take you to the bus drop off area. This added close to an extra hour. I found out that on crowded days they do this and save the other parking lots for people arriving later in the day. Thankfully that was the only day of the trip they did this.
We got 4 day non hopper passes expecting to spend 2 days in Disneyland Park, 1 day in California Adventure and another half day in California Adventure and then spend the rest of the day in Downtown Disney. With the heatwave coming, that ended up changing as the 4 days we were at the parks had temperatures in the upper 80s the first day, 99 the 2nd day, around 105 the 3rd day and 108 the 4th day.
Having the 2 park entrances so close was different compared to Disney World and much better for park hopping even though we were just going to 1 park per day.
After getting through the entrance, it felt familiar and different at the same time.
We went to Tomorrowland first and the first thing you notice is Astro Orbiter right at the entrance and on ground level. We got Fast Passes for Space Mountain and it was so nice be able to use the old Fast Pass system again. I am not a fan of the new system at all mostly because it made the standby lines for less popular lines much longer and I don't want to plan down to the hour what ride I am going to be at 30 or 60 days in advance.
While waiting for the return time we went to Buzz Lightyear's Astroblasters with a 10 minute wait. That is basically unheard of at Disney World with the ride having what seems like a minimum 25 - 30 minute wait even on a low crowd day. I liked this version better with the lazer guns that were attached to the vehicles so it was easier to aim at the targets and there were some impressive effects with lights not found in the original ride. At the end of the ride where normally your on-ride picture would be displayed for purchase, there were kiosks where you can e-mail yourself or friends your on-ride picture for free! I wasn't even in the park for an hour and already I was very impressed with the park.
Next was another ride I was looking forward to ever since Disney World removed their version of the ride. I used to really like 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and was disappointed to see it closed and even more disappointed to see the lagoon be unused for years and then have it turn into a playground until finally being used for a new ride. Riding Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage brought back a lot of memories for me like climbing down the steep stair case into the submarine and everyone having their own window to view everything under the water. There was a lot to see and like Epcot's Finding Nemo ride, some sections with projections but mostly animatronics.
Autopia was the next ride with a 10 minute wait. In the queue they were playing Highway of The Future from 1958 that showed what people though the future of driving would be like. I liked Autopia a lot more than the Tomorrowland Speedway because the track had some variety with an offroad section and the ride time seemed longer. You also passed some old ride vehicles from rides no longer in the park and drive under the Monorail and People Mover Tracks.
It was time for Space Mountain, or Hyper Space Mountain as it is being called right now since it is themed to Star Wars. Most of the standby queue is outdoors and then past the Fast Pass merge point there is an indoor queue that was mostly empty. After a short wait we got to the loading gates. This Space Mountain has 1 track with side by side seating. Although the new Star Wars effects added were impressive, I would have preferred to see the regular version of the ride. It was much smoother than the ride in Florida and the trains were better too.
After lunch at Village Haus counter service restaurant in Fantasyland we went to Pinocchio's Daring Journey. Since this ride was never in Florida, it was going to be something that was totally new for me. There was around a 5 minute wait and after getting into the 3rd scene of the ride, it stopped and the lights turned on. Around 5 minutes later a cast member walked up to our vehicle to let us exit and we got to walk through the beginning of the ride. That was my first ride evacuation from any Disney park. We were told the ride shouldn't be closed for too long and to just go up the exit when it reopened.
Casey Jr. Circus Train was next. There was 1 train running with a 10 minute wait. The train takes you through Storybook Land and around the Storybook Land Canal Boat. With the Disneyland Railroad closed because of Star Wars Land construction, I guess this was as close as we would get to a regular train ride. Pinocchio's Daring Journey had reopened and although the ride opened in 1983, it seemed to fit in with the rest of the Fantasyland dark rides that opened with park or shortly after that. The Pleasure Island amusement park themed room was cool.
I was also looking forward to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. This was another ride I used to enjoy at Disney World and was not happy with the ride removal or its replacement. Unlike Florida's version that had 2 tracks and cars that seated 4 people, this version was 1 track with 2 seat cars. Even with the lower capacity it was still only a 10 minute wait. The ride was just as fun as I had remembered it to be with the car swerving all over and some show scenes with a lot to see in them.
We went to the back area of Fantasyland to get a viewing spot for Mickey's Soundsational Parade. It was good although the Paint The Night Parade later that evening was even better.
After the parade we went to It's A Small World. The outdoor loading area was different compared to Florida and the trough in the ride was narrower with the boat closer to the show scenes. The Disney characters added to the ride fit in well and weren't as distracting as I expected them to be. I also liked that unlike the version in Florida, it's more difficult to see the rooms ahead of you with more turns in the track.
The Matterhorn was next. This was probably the ride I thought most defined Disneyland being different from Disney World since it has always been a major ride exclusive to California. The trains reminded me of Space Mountain's in Florida except no lap bar and just a seat belt. Back in 1959 when this ride first opened it must have been amazing to ride a steel coaster that wasn't a wild mouse or kiddie coaster. The ride was a little bumpy but not too bad and it was fun racing with the sled on the other track through the mountain. The splash down at the end was cool too. I also liked the old ride vehicles you went past in the mountain as well as the Abominable Snowman that works unlike the Yeti in Expedition Everest.
After getting FastPasses for Indiana Jones we went into New Orleans Square and rode Pirates of the Caribbean. With no FastPass+, the line literally never stopped moving and was only around 10 minutes. The beginning of the ride where you go past Blue Bayou was cool and I liked how there were 2 drops. The caverns section took a while to go through and was well done. Even the main part of the ride seemed better than Florida's version. I also liked the lift hill at the end of the ride rather than having to take a moving sidewalk to get back to the entrance level in Florida.
Haunted Mansion was next. The ride seemed similar to Disney World's version, at least except for the building except for the Hatbox Ghost and the graveyard scene seemed like it was longer. The Hatbox Ghost effect was impressive and I'm glad they were able to get the modern version working consistently compared to the original.
Splash Mountain had a posted 80 minute line so it would have to wait until another day. Next to Splash Mountain is Many Adventure's of Winnie The Pooh. There were less than 20 people in line. We usually have to wait longer than that with a FastPass in Disney World. This was one of the few rides I thought Florida has a better version of with the Tigger bouncing section much weaker and the ride seemed out of order with the party scene at the beginning of the ride.
After dinner we went to Main Street to watch Paint The Night Parade. I have always been a fan of the night time parades whether it be Main Street Electrical Parade, Spectro Magic and even Glow In The Park. Pain The Night was probably the best of them all with some really cool floats and a great soundtrack.
We went back to Indiana Jones to use our FastPass. There was a little less than a 10 minute wait to the merge point and then after a long walk inside the queue there was around another 20 minute wait after the merge point. I guess it had to be that way with FastPass added after the ride opened but I felt the merge point was too early when it took almost 30 minutes with a FastPass when the standby line was 60 minutes.
If I hadn't known ahead of time the track layout was the same as Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom I would have never realized it. I have never been much of a fan of Dinosaur and usually only go to the ride because there are so few rides in Animal Kingdom. I never liked it seems like during the fast parts of the ride you are in the dark and can't prepare for the sharp turns. This ride was completely different. It seems like each room had something awesome in it with special effects or amazing theming like the bridge you drive over or the snake statue. When the boulder comes towards you and the vehicles reverses was excellent. It's amazing how much better the same ride can be with a different theme and more elaborate ride sets and this ride was operating years before Dinosaur was.
After a full day in the park and still getting used to the time change, we decided to leave since we had a full day at California Adventure the next day.
On Saturday 6/18 we went to California Adventure. With the temperature reaching 99 degrees and I think all but the highest level of annual passes blocked out that day, I expected crowds to be low and they were. I know this park didn't have the best reputation when it first opened but after Disney spent all that money to refurbish the park, I was looking forward to visiting.
After getting World of Color FastPasses, the first ride of the day was Grizzly River Run since that is right next to the FastPass distribution machines. It was about a 10 minute wait and the ride was much better than Kali River Rapids. Besides there being 2 drops, I liked the theme better than Kali River Rapids and the ride wasn't nearly as short.
The next stop was to get Radiator Spring Racer FastPasses since World of Color is not connected to the other FastPasses. With a return time a couple hours away we went to Paradise Pier and entered the queue for the Little Mermaid ride. There was no wait and since the ride was closed that last time we were at Disney World this would be another new ride. I liked that it was longer than the Fantasyland dark rides and the Under The Sea Room had a lot of audio animatronics.
California Screamin' was a 10 minute wait and they can dispatch trains really fast with the dual loading station. The launch was good and the layout of the coaster reminded me a little of sooperdooperlooper after the launch section. I also liked how it was themed to an older wooden coaster. Every time you thought you were near the final brake run, the coaster kept going. It wasn't that intense but was a really fun coaster at probably my 5th favorite Intamin coaster after Millennium Force, Maverick, El Toro and Cheetah Hunt and my 2nd favorite ride in the park.
Toy Story Midway Mania was next. There seemed to be less demand for the ride compared to Florida and no FastPass means the line moves at a decent pace. It would have been about a 25 minute wait but there was a short breakdown of about 10 minutes. I like the ride but still prefer the Buzz Lightyear rides especially Astro Blasters because as I have said in past reports, Astro Blasters and Spaceranger Spin feel like you are in a video game and Toy Story Midway Mania feels like you are playing a video game.
After lunch at Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, I went to Goofy's Sky School. Even though it was only a 10 minute wait, I was the only one riding the coaster so I used the single rider line and only had to wait 3 trains. The theming was ok but it's still just the same Mack Wild Mouse you can find in parks all over except some of the hills at the end of the ride aren't as steep. It was ok for what it was but The Dark Knight at Great Adventure is much better.
I wanted to try Golden Zephyr since it looked similar to the Traver Circle Swing that I remember seeing at Dorney. Unfortunately it was closed and I didn't go back to the ride when it reopened since the next time we were back in the area, we were going to World of Color.
Cars Land looks amazing. Everything from the rides to the stores and food areas are all so detailed. Radiator Springs Racers was one of the rides I most looking forward to trying on this trip. Test Track was one of my favorite rides in Epcot although I liked the original version and am not much of a fan of the re-theme. Radiator Springs Racers looked like it would be even better with 2 tracks for the racing area and some cool looking dark ride show scenes.
The ride starts out moving slow through some scenes where there are other vehicles and a police car tells you to slow down and that you aren't racing yet. After passing some tractors, there is a split in the track where your car gets "upgraded." Our car went to the right room which was a body shop. After the upgrade, you go outside and wait for the other car to get to the starting line and the Test Tack type part of the ride begins. This section of the ride is better than Test Track even though you don't go as fast, there are many turns and some hills and the racing aspect was really fun. This was an excellent ride and my favorite ride in the park. There were still FastPasses available although not until later in the day and we got them anyway since we didn't expect to need FastPass for anything else.
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters was next. The technology was really cool with no visible track as the cars "danced." I wasn't so sure about a spinning ride with the weather but wasn't too bad until the end when the car did a few rotations.
Bugs Land looked like it would be fun for kids with bumper cars, a small train ride, tea cups and a balloon ride. Even though we have seen It's Tough To Be A Bug many times in Florida, it was a good break for some air conditioning.
Tower of Terror had a posted 13 minute wait time and there was basically no wait to get into the pre-show room. The line after the pre-show seemed shorter than Florida. Even though this version of the ride lacks the 5th dimension section, the drop sequence itself was a lot better and I got some great air time on the drops. I don't know if the drop sequences are always better here or the few times I have ridden the Florida version I just happened to get drop sequences that weren't as good.
The Animation Building was next. I was disappointed to hear that it was removed from Hollywood Studios even though at the end, it wasn't nearly as good as when it first opened when you could see animators working on a movie. Animation Academy was first and unlike in Florida, the room seats around 200 people so there is no wait compared to in Florida where you might have to wait through 2 shows to get in. We got to draw Captain Hook which wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. We skipped Turtle Talk with Crush since we have seen it in Florida and also skipped the Frozen meet and greet. In the back of the building is a ramp that leads to the Sorcerer's Workshop. This is a set of 3 rooms. In the first room you can draw an animation on paper and put it in a spinner and see the drawing move and there are some other animation gadgets. The 2nd room is themed to Beauty and The Beast where you can take a quiz to see what Disney character you are. There is a 3rd room themed to the Little Mermaid but it the door was closed and locked and looking it up online, they are using that space for the Frozen Meet and Greet. I really don't like how Frozen is taking over everything. There was also an Aladdin show that recently ended it's run so it could be replaced with Frozen there too and of course there is the Maelstrom closing as well.
After watching the Pixar parade we went to Monsters Inc. Mike and Sulley to the rescue but it was broken down. After dinner we went back and got to the loading area and it broke down again. After about 20 minutes they restarted the ride and we were able to board a car. I have never seen the movie but the ride was good especially the room with the closet doors on moving tracks all over the place and from watching a video of Super Star Limo, a much improved ride over that.
Before going to World of Color we went back to Radiator Springs Racers and got the other room, this time it was a tire shop. Cars Land looks even later in the day with everything lit up even though it wasn't quite sunset yet.
World of Color was really good although it was kind of difficult to see all of the projections even being in one of the FastPass areas. It was also nice to see 1 night time show on this trip since Fantasmic was closed.
California Adventure was a great park with a good variety of ride types. It is probably my 3rd favorite Disney park after the 2 Magic Kingdom parks. I never expected to put it ahead of Epcot before visiting but I am not too happy with the current version of Epcot with so many rides removed or downgraded and all the empty spaces not being used.
The next day was another day at Disneyland. We weren't going to be spending a full day in the park knowing we had the next day in the park as well to get to any rides we had missed as well as some re-rides.
After getting FastPasses for Splash Mountain we went to Pirates again and then to the Jungle Cruise. The ride was similar to Florida's version, the main difference there was no temple and this version had piranhas which were unexpected.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was next. The posted wait was 10 minutes and it took 3 minutes from entering the queue until boarding a train. I don't think I have ever seen the wait time that short in Disney World especially in the late morning. The coaster was good although I prefer mine trains that only have 1 lift hill since it seems like every time you start moving fast, there is a set of brakes and another lifthill. The 3rd lifthill's new effects with the dynamite was cool and the coaster was very smooth.
After it was our return time for the Splash Mountain Fastpasses we went there and got to the boarding area in a few minutes. I prefer the logs at Disney World with the 2 seats next to each other and 4 rows compared to this version that is more like a traditional log flume with each person having their own seat back. The ride was great just like in Florida although it seemed like it was shorter. There also appeared to be more of certain audio animatronics compared to Disney World like the fishing birds maybe because they were from America Sings?
Going back to Fantasyland we went to the Storybook Land Canal Boats. These boats took you past miniature versions of villages and houses from various Disney films and covered basically the same area as the Casey Jr. Circus train although the boats took you closer to the sets.
Peter Pan's Flight was just over a 20 minute wait. With no FastPass, it helps keep the line down and there have been times in Disney World where even with a FastPass, the wait has been close to 20 minutes. Instead of a moving walkway each ride vehicles stops for you to board. The Disney World version has always been one of my favorite dark rides and the Disneyland version was excellent as well. The starfield that is not in Disney World's version was really cool and the part of the ride where you fly over London at night looked good but Florida's version is slightly more impressive.
Snow White's Scary Adventure had a few people in line. The order of the show scenes was different than Florida's version with the cottage close to the beginning of the ride and it seemed like the witch showed up more often. Snow White was also seen less in this version. The ride felt a little incomplete with no real ending compared to Disney World's version. It's nice the ride still exists here though.
We left the park to go check out Downtown Disney. Unlike at Disney World where it is away from the parks, this version of Downtown Disney is right near the park entrances. World of Disney was nice like in Florida. It was difficult to find a baseball to add to my collection because they only had a Pirates of the Caribbean baseball that didn't say Disneyland and a Donald Duck baseball that said both Disney World and Disneyland. I don't like when the merchandise lists both parks on it because eventually if someone has been to both parks, they won't remember where they got the item. I did find a 60th anniversary baseball in another store.
There wasn't that much to see in Downtown Disney with some stores being the same kind of stores you can find outside of Disney. We had reservations at Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. The restaurant was similar to Chef Mickey's with it being a character meal and the same kind of atmosphere with music playing everyone once in a while where the characters would temporarily stop the meet and greets and walk around the restaurant. We explored the Disneyland hotel with some history panels near the lobby and a display of Disney merchandise from past years. There was also an Autopia car near the history panels.
We were going to take the monorail back to the park and when walking past the Downtown Disney station, we found it was closed. The monorail can't operate in temperatures above 90 degrees because it is not air conditioned and the cast member said it is 20 degrees warmer inside the cars. Even if we waited until later to take a round trip from the park if it got to 90 degrees, we still would have skipped the ride if it felt like 110 degrees inside the cars.
After getting back to the park we went back to Fantasyland. The Mad Tea Party looked really nice without a roof over it and lanterns above the ride area. Before getting a spot for the fireworks we went to the Alice in Wonderland ride. The ride was interesting with the loading area outside and then entering the show building after an small uphill climb. Even inside the show building the ride continued to go uphill. There was a good mix of screens and audio animatronics and the room with the cards marching in circles was cool. After the ride exits the show building, there is a downhill section that is supposed to be a leaf or vine and at the end of the ride there is a final small indoor show scene with the Unbirthday section before returning to the loading area. This was another great dark ride and one that I would have liked to have seen added to Disney World as well.
Rather than watch the Disneyland Forever fireworks on Main Street where it gets crowded, we watched the fireworks in Fantasyland where the same projections that are put on the castle are also on It's A Small World. I liked this fireworks show a lot more than Wishes and the projections were neat.
After the fireworks the Matterhorn reopened and I wanted to ride the other track. It was about a 15 minute wait and it was different riding the coaster at night with much of the ride dark inside the mountain. The Tomorrowland side had a few more drops compared to the Fantasyland side.
On the way out of the park we went back to Indiana Jones and with a posted 15 minute wait there was no wait at all until you got to the pre-show video which was a lot shorter than 2 days before even when using a Fastpass.
It was another great day at Disneyland and 3 days at the resort had gone by quickly. The next day was the final day of the Disneyland part of the trip.
The final day at Disneyland was going to be the hottest day of the trip with it almost getting to 110 degrees.
The first stop of the day was Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln. It was a little similar to Hall of Presidents and The American Adventure with the Two Brothers song being used in both attractions. There was also a video outside the theater playing a 50th Disneyland Anniversary video and some other items like a mural of a map of the park from when the park opened.
Toontown was next. I always thought Mickey's Birthdayland/Starland/Toontown Fair was just ok, even when I was a kid, I guess because the land didn't have any rides until Barnstormer. I knew the Disneyland version was much better and when walking around the area there was a lot more to see in addition to the 2 rides. Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin would have been around 15 minutes except it had a breakdown that made the total wait around 30 minutes. The ride was fun although I hadn't seen the movie in over 20 years so don't remember much of the plot. We tried to not spin too much so we could see everything but it was still difficult with so much to see in the ride and the cars moving fast.
Unlike Barnstormer, Gadget's Go Coaster only runs 1 train with about a 4 train wait. I remember when Toontown first opened and seeing pictures of the land, this coaster looked like something I wanted to try because at the time I was just starting to try coasters and hadn't even ridden Runaway Mine Train or Rolling Thunder yet. It was nice to finally ride the coaster after first reading about it 23 years ago but there isn't much to say other than it's themed well for a kiddie coaster.
We walked around the rest of the land and went into both Mickey and Minnie's house. There was no line to see Mickey and one of the Photopass cast members was surprised when we told him there was no wait and he said the wait can normally be an hour or more.
After Toontown, we went back into Fantasyland and rode all of the dark rides again. I really tried to pay attention to all the scenes in Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Alice in Wonderland and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride since I don't expect to be riding any of those dark rides again in the near future. After the dark rides, we went to Adventureland to see the Enchanted Tiki Room. It was good to get into air condition for around 10 minutes.
Splash Mountain had a 25 minute wait and after that we went back to Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. We finished the day going into some shops on Main Street.
Disneyland exceeded my expectations. A lot of people said that we would be disappointed and Disney World is better for many reasons such as having 4 parks. Disneyland might only have 2 parks but when you consider Hollywood Studios only has 5 rides and Animal Kingdom doesn't have that many rides either, I am guessing the total amount of rides between the resorts is very similar. I really liked using the old Fastpass system and being able to change our mind about how many days were spent in each park without having to worry about then not being able to use Fastpass or having the better rides already reserved.
With a few exceptions like Splash Mountain, when both resorts had the same ride I almost always preferred the Disneyland version and I really liked being able to ride the attractions that are no longer at Disney World that I miss like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and all the rides that were never in Disney World. I'm not going to say that Disneyland ruined Disney World for me but if they were both an equal distance away I would chose Disneyland over Disney World any day.
After checking out of the hotel we drove about 10 minutes to get to Knott's Berry Farm.
Walking towards the entrance I saw something that didn't look good, maintenance workers at Ghostrider in the middle of the ride. If it had been before opening I wouldn't have been concerned but it was around 10:30 and Ghostrider was one of my most anticipated coasters of the trip. When we got to the entrance the only ride listed on the closed rides board was Pony Express so I hoped Ghostrider would eventually open. Even though Pony Express didn't look that great, I still would have liked to have tried the coaster since a motorbike coaster would be a new coaster type for me.
The first coaster of the day was Silver Bullet. While I went to the coaster, everyone else went to Ghost Town. The wait was only about 15 minutes with 2 trains running. This was my 9th B&M invert and after a while many of them start to feel similar. This was probably the least forceful B&M invert I have ridden with no part of the ride really having much of a force except for the final helix at the end of the ride. I liked how some of the coaster was over water and the really overbanked turn before the cobra roll was something different and I think it should count as an inversion. I also liked how the cobra roll is right in front of the entrance to the park so as soon as you enter you are ready for coasters. The ride also reminded me a little of Raptor with both rides having a loop, cobra roll, zero g roll and 2 corkscrews and both coasters having a helix at the end of the ride.
The Timber Mountain Log Ride was next. I knew this was supposed to be a good log flume and it didn't disappoint. There were many detailed show scenes similar to Splash Mountain and a lot to see in the trip through the mountain. The drop at the end of the ride was great too. Just enough to get cooled off and not soaked. This was my 3rd favorite log flume after both Disney World and Disneyland's Splash Mountain rides.
The Calico Mine Ride was an interesting ride. It had a lifthill like a coaster in the mine but was a slow moving dark ride in open train cars. Like the Timber Mountain Log Ride there was a lot to see.
Butterfield Stage Coach was another different ride although very low capacity. With only 1 stage coach running and the ride around 7 minutes, it was around 10 minutes per cycle and with maybe 10 people at most per cycle that is only 60 riders an hour. We only had to wait for 1 cycle since crowds were low but I could see this ride having a really long line on a busier day. The stagecoach takes you on a path around the park and past Camp Snoopy. From the ride I saw Timberline Twister was also closed, not that it mattered since you have to be under 5'9" to ride the coaster.
Walking back near Ghostrider I saw it was finally opened. It must have opened shortly before that because the wait was around 25 minutes. When we walked past the ride on the way out of the park, the wait was supposedly an hour and 45 minutes and before leaving on this trip I had heard even on weekdays the line was usually 60 - 90 minutes with the ride recently reopening and locals wanting to try the coaster after the refurbishment. I knew that this coaster was supposed to be excellent when it opened but like many CCI coasters had gotten horribly rough over the years. With GCI refurbishing the ride and new Millennium Flyer trains it was supposed to be running really well.
Like some other CCI coasters such as Great White at Morey's Piers there was a small section before the lift hill. There is a roof over most of the first drop I think because of noise complaints. The coaster was extremely smooth and had a good combination of drops and banked turns. It wasn't very intense but was still a great coaster. With a slightly longer track and slower speed than El Toro, the coaster kept continuing every time you thought you were going to get to the final brake run. It wasn't at the same level as El Toro and Boulder Dash but just right under that and I'm going to have it was my 3rd favorite wooden coaster.
Sierra Sidewinder was the next coaster. The line was short at just under 10 minutes. This was only my 2nd spinning coaster after Primeval Whirl. Unlike that coaster which is basically just a Wild Mouse with the 2nd half of the ride spinning and not that much, Sierra Sidewinder starts spinning right after you leave the lifthill.The layout of the coaster was really twisted with many turns. The spinning wasn't too bad until the end of the ride. I really don't go on spinning flat rides anymore like the Tilt A Whirl and although I was ok with riding this coaster if it was a ride at a local park it would only be a coaster I rode every few trips to the park.
The first ride we went to in the Boardwalk was Voyage to the Iron Reef. After about a 10 minute we got the 3D glasses and boarded the car. Like Toy Story Mania, all of the gameplay takes place on screens and there are some props and theming in between each section of screens but not too much. The technology was impressive and the giant screens really immersed in the gameplay. It was fun with the competitiveness of trying to get the best score and also working with everyone to try to defeat the bosses. I still prefer traditional dark rides without too many screens and still liked the ride a lot overall.
Coast Rider was the next coaster. It turns out Cedar Fair does know how to run a wild mouse coaster properly, just not at Dorney. 8 cars were running with 2 loading at a time and there were no seatbelts which was surprising considering it is of the only coasters I can think of that doesn't have seatbelts in any of the Cedar Fair parks I have been to. It was different than the standard wild mouse layout that most parks have with a big drop right after the lift hill and the hairpin turns were different in some spots.
Xcelerator was another coaster I was looking forward to on this trip since it is the original Intamin Rocket/Accelerator coaster. There was only 1 train running with the other train in pieces near the end of the ride. After riding Top Thrill Dragster last year it was nice to ride another coaster with similar lap bars rather than OTSRs. Unlike Kingda Ka, Top Thrill Dragster and Storm Runner this coaster launches the train right out of the station. Even though it is around half the height of Kingda Ka and Top Thrill Dragster I liked Xcelerator a lot more than both coasters because there was more to the ride than just a top hat and in Kingda Ka's case, top hat and air time hill. I can't decide if I liked Xcelerator or Storm Runner more but it is close.
I had intended to ride Boomerang but when I saw the dispatches were slow and with a crowded station with 2/3 of the switchbacks in the station full I decided against it since it was probably a 30 minute wait and not worth it to me to wait for a coaster type I have already ridden in multiple parks and a coaster design I really don't like that much to begin with.
I only rode the Space Shot side of Power Tower last year at Cedar Point and wanted to try Supreme Scream. 2 out of 3 towers were running with about a 10 minute wait. On the climb up the tower someone next to me asked me if I was scared. I said I wasn't and that I am used to riding a drop tower at a park in NJ with a 400 foot drop so this wasn't that bad. It is the best S&S drop tower I have tried but that's not saying much since for me it is Zumanjaro > All other drop tower rides.
Walking into Fiesta Village, the first ride was Jaguar. The entrance to the queue was cool with a pyramid. Either when the ride first opened it was really popular or they over estimated the demand for the ride since it takes a while to talk through the empty queue for what is a family coaster. There was a 3 train wait and I went to the last row which was row 15 on this coaster. The best way I can describe the coaster is if you took Blackbeard's Lost Treasure Train, doubled the track with 2 lifts and put the ride above the walkways going around other coasters. It was fun and a good way to get a tour of this section of the park.
The final coaster was Montezooma's Revenge. I have wanted to try a Schwarzkopf shuttle loop coaster for a while and this is the last operating one in the US unless Astroworld's version ever gets rebuilt at Joyland which seems less and less likely considering the coaster hasn't operated in close to 11 years. There was a 4 train wait for the 3rd row. It was nice to be able to ride in Schwarzkopf looping trains again since Hersheypark got rid of them for the new Gerstlauer trains in I think 2013. The launch wasn't that intense but like other Schwarzkopf coasters, the loop was really forceful, especially going backwards. Going up the back spike was fun and I liked the coaster although I think I had it overhyped in my head to be an amazing coaster because I like regular Schwarzkopf looping coasters so much when it was a very good coaster although not close to being one of my favorite launched coasters.
Since I missed seeing the Ghost Town area of the park, I quickly walked through the area on the way out of the park. I know it was added long before Cedar Fair owned the park but it still didn't feel like I was in a Cedar Fair park when in that area.
I liked Knott's Berry Farm overall and would probably have it ranked as my 3rd favorite Cedar Fair park after Cedar Point and Kings Island and ahead of Dorney (I'm not counting Kings Dominion or Canada's Wonderland as my trips there were before Cedar Fair bought the Paramount parks). There some great coasters and a good variety of non coaster rides as well with something for everyone.
After Knott's we drove to Simi Valley and went to the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum, the 3rd Presidential Library I have visited (the other 2 being FDR in NY and JFK in Boston) and stopped at In N Out Burger for dinner since it is one of those places you can't find on the East Coast.
The next day was Hearst Castle. You take a 15 minute bus ride to the area where the castle is. We took the grand rooms tour which only ended up going into 4 or 5 rooms and not upstairs at all. In order to see everything you need to take multiple tours and at $25 each that can add up fast. It was interesting to see the castle but I thought it wasn't worth the cost.
There was a few hour drive to the San Francisco area and we got to our hotel in Redwood City and spent the next day touring the city taking a sightseeing cruise at Fisherman's Wharf and riding the cable cars. The cable cars ended up being over an hour wait with each car taking as long as 10 - 15 minutes to dispatch and although it was something unique especially with the hills in the city, I didn't think it was worth the wait.
Saturday the 25th we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito. It reminded me a little of the shopping area in Cape May, NJ. Later in the day we went to AT&T Park to see the Phillies play the Giants. I thought it would be an automatic loss with Madison Bumgarner pitching but Cameron Rupp hit a home run to put the Phillies in the lead which was exciting since most of the games I have attended in the past few years they have lost.
The final day of the trip was spent at The Walt Disney Family Museum. There was a lot to see in all the different rooms that gave you a history of Walt's life as well as his work and projects including Disneyland. The highlight of the museum for me was the room with most of the theme park items that included a really cool model of Disneyland and was probably my favorite place we visited during the San Francisco part of the trip.
After the museum we went to the airport for the return flight home. The flight was supposed to be at 9:40 p.m. but there was around a 45 minute delay and we got back around 6:00 a.m. after the time zone change.
The whole trip was excellent and as I mentioned earlier in the report, Disneyland was really great and I hope to visit the parks again sometime in the future.
Glad you had such a great trip! I love Disneyland and I'm hoping to get back next year.
I need to give Knott's another shot. When I went, Xcelerator and Montezuma were closed, and I never got to ride the Pony Express. It was one of those days where 90% of the people there were between the ages of 13 and 18, which didn't help either. That flume, though, is something special. I might even like it MORE than Splash Mountain!
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