In August of 2015, the TP&T team hopped on a plane and flew out for an incredible adventure in California. The visit included visiting several of Southern California’s incredible list of theme parks and learning about the history of the Walt Disney Company. In our visit, we went to The Jim Henson Company, Walt Disney Studios, Imagineering, various Hollywood attractions, and the Disneyland resort as part of the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic tour. After the five day tour, we continued our journey as we visited Knott’s Berry Farm, Universal Studios, and Six Flags Magic Mountain before returning home. In this article and several other articles full of photos, we invite you to join us in TP&T’s California Adventure! So sit back, relax, and get ready to journey into the Wonderful World of the entertainment industry!
For those of you first reading this series, welcome! I strongly recommend reading some of the previous articles. Links are below!
Part 1 – Hollywood – We visit several Hollywood destinations as our Backstage Magic tour begins! Enjoy photos and information from Disney Studios and our fantastic visit to Imagineering. You can find the article here!
Part 2 – An Evening in Disneyland – In this trip report, we journeyed through endless traffic on the Los Angeles highways and wound up at the happiest place on earth, Disneyland! This article will take you within the gates of the original theme park as we spend a very exciting evening in the park. You can find the article here!
Part 3 – A Day in the Happiest Place on Earth – With this photo update, you follow us into the original theme park as we venture through a park filled with hidden finds and awesome attractions. Oh yeah, we also went into the Dream Suite (and I have pics)! You can read the trip report here!
BONUS – I’ve got a Fantasmic! video up on the YouTube Channel! You can view the video here!
Just in case you couldn’t tell from the title, our next leg of the California trip brought us to Disney California Adventure. After our long day in Disneyland, we got some sleep, and woke up early the next day to meet with the Adventures by Disney group. After getting ready, we had a character breakfast at the Grand Californian, and made our way into the park!
It was early in the day when we entered Disney California Adventure, which meant that the Grizzly Peak section of the park looked beautiful with the light!
We were unsure of where we were going, but our Adventure Guides took us over to Grizzly Peak Airfield.
I have to say, the area looked like an airport, but it was not the best themed Disney land.
In the distance, the glamorous 1930s Hollywood soared above the park.
Soon, we were told we would be riding Soarin’ over California!
The buildings were nicely themed and fit very well into the land as a whole.
We talked with a member of the Soarin’ maintenance team, and then the group was escorted into the massive building.
We rode Soarin’, which had been updated with new 4K projectors as part of the ride’s recent renovation. As always, it was a fun attraction that fit very well into the area. It was also nice that we didn’t have to wait for it like we did in Florida! Afterwards, we were told to stay in the area, so I got this unique shot of what it looks like above Soarin’.
Soon, we were escorted behind the projector for the ride! Although I was unable to take pictures, I did find this picture via InPark Magazine
Vekoma also had a good picture that could show what we experienced back there. They let us stay down there during a ride through of the attraction, so we got a nice view of how it works. Although the ride has minimal movements, it really creates an immersive experience. The cars appear to travel up and down a little bit and tilt from side to side. That’s all it took. A few tricks are also used on the ride to create the illusion of flight, one of which was that when tilting to the left, the car on the right is highest, and left is lowest, which adds to the effect.
Next, we went into the backstage areas of Soarin’. Inside, they showed us the chemicals they use to recreate smells and showed us the erector kit model that the ride was based on. The chemicals come in a salt-like form from what I remember. When Soarin’ Around the World flies in next year (read that last sentence again if you didn’t notice the pun), I expect to smell all around the world!
After soaring over California, it was time for everyone’s favorite place, the restroom! By that point in the day, we knew about an unannounced Disney ride (at the time), Soarin’ Around the World. That’s right folks, I reported it two whole days before it was announced (we were at DCA August 13th, it was announced August 15th)! Anyway, now that I’m done bragging, I’d like to share my thoughts on the coming attraction. It will be great in Shanghai and Epcot, but terrible in DCA. The ride is in a park themed to California, and the land was just renovated to fit even more closely to many of the places featured in the ride (Sequoia/Yosemite). I’m sorry, but I think that explains it all.
Anyway, I think that concludes my Soarin’ rant. Everyone’s said what I said before, but I just thought I’d say it too. I loved the rock work in the land. It looked fantastic in the morning light!
The buildings were the perfect colors and style too. I think the renovation looks fantastic.
While waiting in Grizzly Peak Airfield, I caught a glimpse of our next destination, Carthay Circle.
In the park’s “hub,” guests were starting to pour in.
Standing up above was the beautiful Carthay restaurant!
The decorations on the building for Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary looked fantastic!
Inside, we took a long tour of the restaurant. Inside, there are a number of pictures of Walt and interesting details hidden throughout. Just look at the tabletops, you may notice something in the wood!
After a while of touring the restaurant, I was yearning to ride something. It looked like we were done, but we had another stop on the restaurant tour.
We entered DCA’s exclusive Club 1901, which is what the Adventure guides described to us as “Platinum Level Club 33.” Although the inside was beautiful, I needed a thrill (or a soda, but they weren’t giving us food/drink because it appeared to be closed).
Finally, after an hour of touring the restaurant, we began our walk to the next attraction!
The moment we got here, I was incredibly excited!
We entered the beautiful Radiator Springs, which is one of the best theme park lands out there (and that’s coming from someone who hates the movie Cars)!
The land looked as if it was straight out of the movie, assuming you replace Cars with people, and stick about quadruple the population of the town into it.
The Cozy Cone was one of the nicest looking buildings in town, I just wish they’d made it a real hotel!
Flo’s Cafe looked just like the one in the movie.
It reminds me of a nicer version of Sonic. 🙂
I wonder how many people have tried to knock down this tower?
Overall, Radiator Springs was a beautiful land. Disney added several little details to enhance the land as they always do. Some of the most noticeable details were how the stoplight flashes slightly longer one time than the others, and when night comes the land lights up slowly in segments.
Finally, it was time for an attraction! Half the group went backstage while half of us walked up to Radiator Springs Racers! The “Paddle of Power” photobombed my shot, I tried three times and I missed getting an unobstructed picture for different reasons every time.
The queue for the ride was beautiful!
On my one ride, I filmed a mounted POV of Radiator Springs Racers! I do not recommend doing this unless you are experienced with filming rides. I used a GoPro Jaws Flex Clamp mount and attached it quickly and easily to a bar on the ride. I am saying this because this is probably the easiest and only way you can do what I did. There was nothing in the rules of the park at the time saying this was not allowed (and as far as I know it still is allowed), and our Adventure Guides found out afterwards and did not say it was bad, but instead said how awesome that was. As far as I could tell, everything was okay, but I urge not to film without experience in that manner (I’ve done a couple of mount tests before on a car).
Here’s a fun game, is it Radiator Springs Racers or is it real?
How about this one?
Last, but not least, this one! Be sure to comment below or send us your answers on Twitter!
Radiator Springs Racers was an incredible attraction. It brought Test Track to a new level. The racing aspect, rock work, indoor theming, and a course that wasn’t just a circle all combined into a fantastic ride!
Shortly afterwards, we were escorted behind the ride and into the machine room of Radiator Springs Racers. Inside, we learned bit about what they do for maintenance and how the ride works. Essentially, these cars are a disaster for maintenance. Frequently, they are taken into the shop and are completely rebuilt (I believe this is every nine months, but I can’t remember). After the extensive rehab, which takes weeks, but used to take much longer than it does now, the cars return to regular circulation. There are SEVERAL cars on the ride and in maintenance at once.
Radiator Springs Racers also has one of the most detailed control panels available in its maintenance shop. The televisions within display every aspect of the ride for the crews to view. The animatronics frequently break and are repaired overnight. I believe two of them were down by the time we rode.
After the backstage adventure, we walked through cast member only zones and into Paradise Pier. There, we waited for the remainder of the group before our next attraction.
That next attraction was Toy Story Midway Mania. The entire tour group was brought onto the ride. Due to the fact that I was sitting next to an Adventure Guide who helped expose some of the secrets of the game for me, I proudly beat the rest of the TP&T crew!
While in Paradise Pier, California Screamin’ was down (it was testing in this picture).
Since we were getting hungry, we decided to go grab some lunch!
The hot California sun didn’t help our thirst either as the tour group dispersed (with five any-attraction fastpasses)!
Using the Disneyland app, we found a nice sit down restaurant in the white building.
The Cove bar had delicious food with a beautiful view of Paradise Pier. Food options were mainly appetizers, but the sliders, pizza, and spinach and artichoke dip were all delicious. The service was very good too!
Mickey’s Fun wheel was one of the few attractions I wished I had rode, but didn’t get to ride while at Disney California Adventure.
Testing continued throughout lunch, that ride has a lot of trains running at once!
During lunch, the ride reopened, and waits instantly soared up to thirty minutes or so.
I love the California Screamin’ logo!
California Screamin’ was one great Intamin! It really is what ties Paradise Pier together as a land. It was a very smooth, long, and flat out fun ride!
Speaking of California Screamin’, I filmed a POV of the awesome coaster! Unfortunately, my GoPro mount broke (literally, the main container holding the GoPro) before I got on. Unfortunately, I had to hold onto the camera throughout the ride, but luckily the footage still turned out pretty good!
I have to say, the new DCA is just a beautiful park. If Hollywood Studios looks like this once it’s complete, my excitement will be through the roof!
Across the way from California Screamin’, it was time for us to venture Under the Sea!
I thought The Little Mermaid was a fun attraction. It essentially summarized the entire movie for guests, but it is definitely a good dark ride for the little kids!
The building also had some beautiful architectural details!
After riding the Little Mermaid, we walked our way around Grizzly Peak trying to get into Hollywood. I’m not sure why, but we did take that long route!
Grizzly Peak reminded me of Yellowstone!
Even the plants fit in perfectly with the rapids ride!
It almost looked like a hot spring back there.
Passing through the hub again, the crowds were noticeably lower than before.
Overall, Hollywood Land was a decently themed area.
The facades looked great, with designs that look much better than those of actual Los Angeles.
Even Disney Junior fit well into the land.
The only problem with the land was this. I think the painting is very well done, but it just doesn’t fit well enough into the landscape of the town. I understand doing this at a place like Hollywood Studios, where the Streets of America represent a movie lot, but they should have placed an actual facade here.
It was time to be terror-fied! 🙂
We entered the queue, went through the pre-show, and entered the service room for the hotel. All of a sudden, we were going upstairs into a second service room above. It was strange, but it made sense to increase loading capacity. The ride started with a move backwards into the ride’s scenes. Eventually, you make your way up, and quickly transition into the drop sequence (unlike the Florida ride, which features a forward moving section of the drop tower). In this version, I felt like the drop sequence was longer, which is great. I love the drop on these rides, and they are the only drop towers I’ve ever enjoyed.
It was getting late and hot that afternoon. While some members of the tour took advantage of reserved seating at the Aladdin show, we went for a ride on Monsters Inc! Like Ariel, it was another fun ride that essentially summarized the movie. These two rides bring the classic dark ride into a modern context.
Since we were going back for a break in the hotel, we walked down through Grizzly Peak.
Using one of the fastpasses, I got one soaking and fun ride on the park’s water ride! I loved it! In my opinion, it was very comparable to Animal Kingdom’s Kali River Rapids (although I haven’t been on that in a while). I liked the overall theme more, and would rank this slightly above.
As it got late in the evening, we relaxed in our room for a little while before returning into the park for dinner and some more fun! Included in our tour was a meal at the Carthay Circle restaurant (as you recall, I “loved” touring it). Unfortunately, the service was slow, but my meal was okay. I had one of three items listed on the limited menu they gave us, the chicken. The meal just took a lot of time (and if you don’t have my diet coke out within fifteen minutes from me ordering it, that brings you down several points in my book).
We finished the meal, and moved on to Paradise Pier for the evening’s showing of World of Color! Meanwhile, our friends from Extended Queue also happened to be in the park that night (sadly, we didn’t bump into them). Adventures by Disney then brought us to a reserved area with a great view of the show. Overall, it was a decent show. Essentially, it was a very long Disney commercial. I wouldn’t say NPH ruined the show, but I would say that it wasn’t as good as some of the other shows at the Disneyland Resort due to the nature of it. It had a high emphasis on Frozen (we were “privileged” to listen to the entirety of “Let it Go”) and otherwise it was mostly a Disneyland commercial. Not particularly exciting.
Afterwards, it was almost time to go. While the rest of the group went back to the hotel, I got one more ride in on Soarin’ before I left. Although the people surrounding me on the attraction were rude and annoying (leaning on me, swearing loudly with young kids near them, and swinging the car while cast members requested for them to stop), it was still a magnificent ride. It was a great way to end my visit to the Disneyland Resort. The next day, we’d head down the road to what was once a family owned berry farm!
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