It’s Race Day at Disney California Adventure Park
Day 5. It was that ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ song again that greeted us as we skipped to the gates of Disney California Adventure Park that early morning of December 14. California Adventure was just across Disneyland Park, the other park that we visited the day before. California Adventure has themes that bring to life popular Disney and Pixar movies like Frozen, Monster Inc, Cars, Toy Story, Little Mermaid and others. Although inspired by cartoon movies, many of the attractions here are probably geared towards older children and the most popular ride being the Radiator Springs Racers at Cars Land.
(Hope you’ll enjoy our home video of that day. Turn up the volume now!)
We always pack light whenever we are in Disney because it involves a day of walking about, taking rides in small boats or cars and because we can afford not to bring food for Joaquin. Disney is an allergy-aware park and they have food that caters to food restrictions – how wonderful isn’t it especially for families like ours.
I learned through the years that it’s a practical idea to get 2 copies of the park map and the day’s schedule of shows and parades. Chances are, you’re gonna lose one set, if not, you can use them for your photo album like what I do. Yep, I’m old school – one of those (or of the few) who still prints pictures and puts them in a scrapbook.
Our first stop was at the entrance of It’s Tough to be a Bug to get FastPass tickets to Radiator Springs Races. This attraction is only available in California, hence it’s the most popular ride here, and so if this ride is your priority then getting FastPass should also be your first stop. It was only 9:30am and the FastPass tickets we got were already for 4pm.
This snow car was so cute! We love Christmas and it was really a treat for our family to be in Disney during the Holiday Season because the decorations were simply amazing.
Just a few meters away from It’s Tough to be a Bug was Cars Land, our next stop. The kids were looking forward to Cars Land because the attractions here were inspired by Disney’s Cars and Car 2, two of their favourite movies of all time. As we walked through Cars Land, we were transported to this almost-forgotten little town called Radiator Springs along the legendary Route 66.
Our first ride that day was at Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. It was actually good to start the day with this fun, moderately fast and spinning ride. Benjamin and Joaquin were in one tractor and Euben and I in another. You can probably guess who screamed the loudest! LOL
Since we will be going back to Cars Land at 4pm, we decided to save the other attractions there for later and made our way to our next destination, ‘a bugs land’. We dared each other to ride Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train…. ah it turned out a slow and (sorry) quite boring ride. But don’t get us wrong, this could potentially be a favourite of a 3-year-old, but hmm not exactly our family’s.
So we hurried out of ‘a bug’s land’, away from Heimlich. On our way out to our next attraction, we passed by the Tower of Terror. But we didn’t do this ride because Benjamin was, well, too…a) scared, b) frightened or c) handsome for this attraction (?)
We finally arrived at Hollywood Land. The first thing we did was to get tickets to the Aladdin for later. If you’re interested to see this musical, you’ll have to get the tickets an hour or so in advance because it’s a popular show here and it tends to sell out quickly.
While waiting for Aladdin, we had a peek into the Sorcerer’s Workshop at Disney Animation building which is a hands-on exhibit of some Disney classics like Beauty and the Beast. Surprisingly, and although not in our plan, we stayed quite a bit here thanks to the rather engaging interactive displays like the Magic Mirror and Beast’s enchanted book.
The video clips of some of Disney’s movies also got the boys entertained.
And as were leaving the building, we saw this wall and we knew we had to pose for some pictures. Who wouldn’t? It’s fairy tale!
Ah, we were lucky to meet this big guy! It was just in time before we do the Mike & Sulley to the Rescue attraction. It was a wild ‘taxi’ ride through the scenes of the movie Monster Inc. We enjoyed this ride a lot especially Joaquin who just recently watched the movie.
Another movie theme that’s in Hollywood Land was Frozen. I like Frozen, but the boys don’t. I was outnumbered so we didn’t watch any of their shows. Although quite reluctant, they were nice enough to visit Arendelle with me. Inside the building was the snowy village of Arendelle, with small houses, a Christmas tree and a small snow tubing area where kids can actually play.
We left Hollywood Land for a while to have lunch and explore Grizzly Peak land. They have interesting rides but they were too exciting (read as too fast, too many drops and a bit too frightening) for our family so we just settled for a leisurely walk and a bit of family shots here and there. We had lunch at Smokejumper Grill which has a good selection of American food.
After lunch, we headed back to Hollywood Land to catch Aladdin. I though the kids will be bored in this 45-minute musical extravaganza. But no! They loved it! The genie was so funny they were laughing half the time. We agreed that this show alone could justify more than half the price of our entrance fees.
Soon after Aladdin, we walked back to Cars Land for the much awaited, Radiator Springs Racers. We had time to check out more of Cars Land before the ride and here are some of the pics of the place. Yup, just like in the movies!
We had our magic FastPass tickets and so walking and queuing to the ride took less than 30 mins, that’s really short compared to the 2hr wait if we didn’t have those.
In the queue, we had these family shots taken against this massive backdrop called Cadillac Range mountains. Do those towering peaks remind you of something?
Yes! They resembled the tail fins of classic Cadillacs.
Along the queue was this sign “Almost There”. And it’s almost necessary to have it there because the walk to the ride was quite long, longer than any of the ride we’ve been at. But I tell you, this ride was worth the walk and the queue!
We finally made it to the start of the ride where we boarded a race-car which can accommodate 6 people. It was a 5-minute ride which started out slow, allowing us to immerse fully in the captivating sights. There were grand rock formations, an old bridge, and a waterfall, just like in the movies when Lightning McQueen and Sally were having a leisurely spin around Radiator Spring.
The scene changed from day to night, and we were suddenly cruising under a dark sky dotted with twinkling stars. And then entered Sheriff, Mack the red car carrier, Mater and the noisy tractors, and Frank the terrifying harvester…
It was so beautiful. Whether you’ve seen the Cars movies or not, you will surely like this experience. The cars and the trucks were talking. We were laughing!
We were in the middle of a quiet little town which seemed pleasantly stuck in the 1960’s…
We then entered Luigi’s tyre shop before dropping by at Doc Hudson’s garage.
And here marked the start of the race, as Luigi and Guido cheered on. Now our car was side by side another car, preparing to race!
The speed sent us screaming our hearts out, Euben and I louder than the kids as usual. We were racing in the desert, the engine of our car roaring!
It was fast and there were a few drops towards the end which created a perfect ending.
That. Was. Amazing! It was truly the most amusing ride. It was exciting but not a heart attack–inducing kind of ride. It was something I am willing to do over and over again.
Half of the people were still screaming, the other half raving about the race. I dare say, all of us were happy… carefree!
And look who we saw at the Cozy Cone Motel after the race? Yep! The one and only Lightning McQueen!
We finally settled for an early dinner and hot chocolate. It was getting chilly outside and we had to warm ourselves up before we continue exploring the park.
After dinner, we headed to Paradise Pier which was like an amusement park, complete with carousels, roller coasters, a Ferris wheel and more.
It was a lively place to be in, the light from the string of yellow bulbs intensifying as the sun grew low that evening.
That’s Mickey’s Fun Wheel over there, and that’s where we headed next. There were two choices of gondola in the Ferris wheel – one was stationary and the other was swinging. We chose the stationary gondola because we wanted to enjoy the view more than the excitement of swinging at 150 ft high.
We were glad to be already up while the sun was going down. It felt good to see the sun set over Disney and what seemed like the whole of Anaheim.
The kids said we made the right choice. The view from above was fantastic and gave us a few moments of serenity.
But as the saying goes, it ain’t over till it’s closed! So here, the most adventurous among the four of us, Joaquin and Euben, were still takin’ on the jellies at the Jumpin’ Jellyfish.
Also in Paradise Pier was The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventures. The boys did not appreciate this slow boat ride as much as I did, but they appreciated being inside the building, protected from the chilly evening breeze.
At 5:45pm, we watched the Pixar Play Parade, a display of colourful floats inspired by popular Pixar cartoon movies.
People erupted into cheers as the life-size Lightning McQueen drove in.
The cheers grew louder when Santa Mater arrived, clearly the favourite of everyone.
The next parade, World of Color, was still at 9pm, there was enough time for another dinner and a few more rides.
But the cold breeze became unbearable, abnormally cold that year for Anaheim, and our down jackets (and my favourite miniskirt) were failing us. And so we retreated and painfully decided to forego the World of Color parade.
As we were leaving the park, our numb ears perked up once again when we saw Mickey. He was beside a Christmas tree, seemingly waiting to take a selfie with us. Oh what luck. And so that’s how our 2nd day at Disney ended.
The following day, we were back at Disney for our 3rd day in the happiest place on Earth!