Thanks to an undying urge to get to Disneyland as much as possible and an unbelievable round trip fare for two between Orlando and Ontario, California, my wife and I found ourselves weeks away from arguably the fastest trip we've done to California. Flying out on Friday night after work and arriving at our hotel across from Disneyland at about 2:30 AM on Saturday, only to turn around and rope drop the parks a few hours later. We ended up with a day and a half before needing to turn around and head back to Ontario to fly home on the red eye, arriving in Orlando with enough time to sleep for a few hours, get cleaned up and go back into work.
I was terrified that this plan would be a fruitless one with the parks too busy to enjoy more than a few of the major rides, but for the price of the flights, I was willing to take the risk... And as it turns out, one new tool made our adventure more than possible. MaxPass was the hero of our trip! For $10 per person per day we were able to control the Disneyland FastPass system, leveraging it just as we always had with the paper tickets, but able to book our next attraction from our phones (across parks) without having to walk up to a distribution location... The sheer amount of time save in doing so is immeasurably valuable. We'd score fastpasses for Space Mountain and as soon as it was time to go in, we'd be booking Guardians of the Galaxy or the Incredicoaster.
New this trip for us was Pixar Pier (and Pixar Fest) and new for my wife was Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! We made sure to hit all of our favorites, we said goodbye to some outgoing experiences that were closing (or are likely to be closed by the time we next visit the resort) and made the most of our 36 hours at the resort before heading home!
This is the new morning mad dash pattern... Take a guess where we're headed.
Can't say you'd ever see hundreds of guest waiting to rope drop the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror before.
The entrance of Mission Breakout is filled with details to take in!
You won't find Adam Warlock in here!
You have to wonder how the Collector got his hands on a piece of Ultron's army.
One Little Spark?
Pixar Fest saw some subtle additions added to Cars Land...
Like these awesome movie posters from the Cars universe!
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree is still such a blast!
I've always loved this.
Radiator Springs Racers is truly one of my favorite Disney attractions in existence.
Cars Land was the thing that made me enjoy/appreciate the Cars franchise.
Little pops of airtime to be had.
The rockwork is extraordinary...
I love every bit of it!
I always enjoyed Luigi's Flying Tires, but it is hard to deny that Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters is a really fun replacement that more guests can enjoy. The variety of dance sequences also makes it very re-rideable!
Time for some new hotness!
No shortage of Pixar Fest merch.
I love the new Pixar Pier billboard art!
Some really great pieces!
OFF! OFF! OFF!
The entrance arch for the Incredicoaster is a pretty neat opening statement for the reworked queue area.
I appreciate the moderate attempt to add story to the conversion.
The new red, yellow and blue tones of Pixar Pier really liven up what was once Paradise Pier.
Didn't get to try Churros 1 but I hear it's a great value!
Love the signage!
The revamped Games of the Boardwalk were a huge win for us!
La Luna Star Catcher was easily our favorite addition!
We might played five rounds at this game to get all of the different plush...
We might have.
The new Heimlich game was super cute (albeit super difficult). Plus it features audio from the now-closed Heimlich's Chew Chew Train attraction.
Bing Bong's Sweet Stuff has some awesome new treats to enjoy on the Pier!
Flik's Flyers from A Bug's Land is being rethemed to come back to the park as an Inside Out-themed ride operating in the former Maliboomer plot on the far end of the Incredicoaster.
Coco had a substantial presence on the Paradise Gardens side of the park.
They really did a nice job dressing up the park for Pixar Fest.
This thing was ALL KINDS OF AWESOME!
Sadly World of Color wasn't operating during our visit due to ongoing maintenance.
Here we are...
Flik's Fun Fest didn't have much longer for this world...
This view has certainly changed over the years.
And now it's time to say goodbye...
To all our company.
I appreciate the effort that went into making lemonade with the lemons the Imagineers were given when A Bug's Land was quickly green lit.
It was a charming little attraction that managed to be one of those "so bad it's good" kind of rides in the park.
It took me years to even experience it despite visiting Disneyland and California Adventure many times before, but once I did, it became something I'd try to ride at least once per trip if at all possible.
New for us this trip was the Incredicoaster, the retheme of our favorite California Screamin'. The queue has a pretty humorous pre-show loop including a not-so-subtle jab at taking an old ride and slapping a new name on it.
The Incredicoaster manages to add a fun story to an experience that was simply a coaster before, and for that reason, I appreciate what it accomplishes.
The sights along the track are mostly unchanged.
The added details within the coaster's tunnels are a fun plus.
The loops is still as awesome and forceful as ever...
Here we go!
Jack-Jack is multiplying!
The finale of the ride is pretty cute.
Time to explore the new Lamplight Lounge!
The Cove Bar was one of my favorite places to relax and dine, so I was anxious to see how The Cove Bar would turn out.
The menu is sizeable, especially for a venue that is primarily a lounge. Lamplight Lounge is a combination of the former Cove Bar space along with Avalon Cove/Ariel's Grotto. If you dine downstairs you have access to the full menu but if you dine upstairs, you get access to drinks and appetizers only.
But the downstairs space is the most rewarding to experience as the walls are filled with memorabilia from the production of so many of Pixar's hit films...
Old and new.
Lots to look at!
We especially loved all of the elements from UP!
This private booth is makes up one of the neatest corners of the restaurants.
Toys and dolls of all of Pixar's efforts line the wraparound shelf.
Even the kitchen access doors are themed!
The path to the restrooms is covered in notable quotes from the Pixar films.
All of the new drinks on the menu are unique and themed to different in-jokes from the Pixar lot and their associated productions.
The drink menu is honestly HUGE!
Good news friends! The Cove Bar's lobster nachos live on and they are still amazing!
The Deviled Eggs and Toast was really fantastic (for a lover of Deviled Eggs).
The Ratatouille with Roasted Eggplant and Bell Pepper Ragoût with Zucchini Noodles, Burrata Cheese, Mushrooms, Smoked Tomato Sauce, and Basil Aïoli was incredible--the highlight of the meal!
I went with the Salmon PLT and loved every bit of it!
The Open Ocean with a Splash was a light and fruity frozen cocktail that fit my wife's fancy.
The Final with a Fix was more my speed with Greenbar IXÁ Reposado Tequila, St. George Raspberry Liqueur, Cointreau, fresh Lime Juice, Agave Nectar, and a dash of Del Maguey Vida Mezcal.
I'll never tire of this view... Pun intended.
Always happy to see the Red Car Trolley News Boys still performing!
I have a print of this poster at home!
I loved this version of the Tiki Room in Tokyo!
Can't go to Adventureland without getting at least one Dole Whip.
Galaxy's Edge incoming!
The way Disneyland's paths wrap around Big Thunder Mountain, it is hard not to find multiple angles to photograph the ride.
I'm incredibly fond of the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage because it is the only ride left of its kind in operation at the Disney Parks. I grew up with 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea at the Magic Kingdom and was really bummed as a kid to lose that... So experiencing this ride for the first time as a young adult brought back all of those wonderful memories. Since that first experience, the subs have been a must-do for me on every visit I make to the resort.
Scuba Ooh Mow Mow.
I notice new details in this ride each time I experience it.
I still think the Magic Kingdom's version has the best layout from a coaster standpoint, but I love the Disneyland Space Mountain experience as a whole.
An absolute must do for every trip to Disneyland.
Also a must-do? Bread bowls at the Boudin Bakery.
And a recent addition to my must-do list is to try the seasonal bread pudding at Pacific Wharf Cafe. This time around, it was Strawberry Cheesecake Bread Pudding with a vanilla sauce and it was fantastic!
For the first time in a few years I was able to break way from the parks to stop by Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. Now that we have one at Walt Disney World, it isn't as much a priority for our trips to Disneyland, but with two new mugs on the market, I knew a stop was warranted.
The new Piranha Pool mug was well worth the visit--and it might be one of my favorite mugs in the collection for how perfectly defined and unique it is!
Stay tuned for my final update covering the latter half of our 36 hour trip!
Oh man, that looks like an awesome day. Thanks for the coverage of the Lamplighter Lounge especially. Everything looks great.
Glad to hear MaxPass worked out so well for you. Last time I visited was just before they rolled that out, so I'm excited to try it. Sounds like it dehecticifies the day no matter how much or how little time you have.
I did rope drop Tower of Terror with hundreds of people, but that was after the announcement of its removal, so everyone was there. Really looking forward to Guardians. Great pics of the interior; I love how they've done the Collector's museum.
I also forgot to mention that included in the MaxPass price is unlimited PhotoPass downloads for each of the days during which you have MaxPass, including ride photos & photo ops throughout the parks! I had a FastPass for Radiator Springs Racers booked as I entered California Adventure a minute after the park opening set for 35 minutes later! The value is incredible!
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
In our one evening we had in the parks, we were able to catch both the return of Paint the Night (featuring one new float) and the new Fantasmic! Following our packed full day, our final day of our insanely quick trip meant squeezing in as much as we possibly could before leaving for the airport... But once again, MaxPass was the hero of the day, allowing us to accomplish so much in such a brief period of time!
It was surreal for me to see the Paint the Night Parade for me for several reasons... My first visit to Disney California Adventure at the age of 13 was where I saw the Main Street Electrical Parade run after it left Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (which I saw it run there many times as a kid). I later saw that same parade during its final run on the Magic Kingdom's Main Street. Years later, my first time bringing my wife to the Disneyland Resort, we saw Paint the Night on Main Street at Disneyland and during her third visit, getting to see Paint the Night in California Adventure where I saw its predecessor run so many years earlier.
It is a long winded explanation, but this parade is really special to me.
Mack is still one of the coolest elements of the parade with his interior LED 3D lighting.
The Belle float still stuns.
New to the parade (replacing the Frozen float) is the addition of a float themed to The Incredibles.
There's so many details to take in, from Jack-Jack popping up around the float, to Dash running around it...
Violet's energy sphere is such a neat effect (and hard to photograph)!
The Sorcerer Mickey float is still my favorite of the parade and is a stunning finale to the show.
California Adventure has some really picturesque spots to take in at night.
Having now seen Fantasmic! in all three of its locations, I've recognized things I like about each. The new updates to Fantasmic! that were introduced a few years ago have really elevated the show for me.
Classic imagery that has been a stapled for the show has been plussed with new lighting and projection effects that make theses scenes pop even more!
I think the introduction of Pirates of the Caribbean in this scene is a far more effective moment than the previous Peter Pan scene.
The lighting on the dragon is incredible!
The show looks better than ever!
The next (and last) day in the parks allowed us to stop in to a few of our lower priority experiences...
Bao is such a great short, and getting the chance to see it on the big screen was worth the Pixar Shorts Film Festival alone.
MaxPass includes the unlimited download of PhotoPass photos including your on-ride photos.
The underside of the Incredicoaster entrance arch is pretty cool.
Some more in-tube scenes that were added to the Incredicoaster during its transition from California Screamin'.
Jack-Jack went all gooey...
It isn't easy to add story to the scream tubes, but the Incredicoaster pulled it off!
Still such a great coaster!
And we love it!
A look at the coaster's marquee.
You can't come to the Disneyland Resort without getting a bar of Clarabelle's Hand Dipped Ice Cream!
Charming little castle...
I really do love it though.
For my childhood's sake, I make it a point to visit Mr. Toad's Wild Ride each time.
I'm just glad this classic dark ride still exists somewhere (and the Country Bear Jamboree exists in Florida to allow this one to have been spared in California).
Always a must-do for me.
It still means so much to me that I get the chance to ride a 1964 World's Fair original, original trough and all, each time I visit Disneyland.
It truly is something special.
Mary Blair's style is timeless and able to be appreciated by guests of all ages.
You already know how I feel about the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage...
Mickey and the Magical Map has been a great addition to the park...
We definitely try to catch it every time we get to Disneyland.
From Toontown you can spot the Black Spire of the Black Spire Outpost on Batuu...
Also known as Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
Thanks to Pixar Fest, the long-running Pixar Play Parade moved to Disneyland Park (replacing my favorite Soundsational Parade) and got a facelift as a result. This is the new lead float for the parade.
Joy and Sadness join the parade in a new float.
And Bing-Bong too!
UP! is also represented in the parade now too.
I discovered Bengal Barbecue late in my Disneyland visits but since I did, it has become a quick service favorite of mine.
The new path of the Disneyland Railroad is gorgeous!
It'll be odd not seeing Stormtroopers roaming Tomorrowland once Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge opens.
Have to stop for a moment...
Thank you Walt.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
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