California Adventure

Today, I went to California Adventure. With the same partner in crime as last week’s Disneyland Redux. Seeing as we both now had free tickets, and both don’t have day jobs, of course we took advantage of it on a weekday!

Neither of us had any idea of what to expect. This time we got there  just as the long lines of cars were waiting to park, just as the gates were opened, just on time. So, we wandered about. First off, we saw Disney characters, there right in front of us, in the costume! We saw the Chipmunks, Minnie, Mickey, then Pluto, and finally, Donald. Since this had been a big complaint of Chris’ at Disneyland, the not easily running into Mickey he had expected, this meant we no longer needed to stop at Customer Service to complain, which we had tentatively agreed we would do on the tram ride in.

So we wandered into the faux Hollywood, saw the Tower of Terror, heard the screams and had no better sense of what it was as a ride.

Tower of Terror


We wandered into the Bug’s Life and marvelled at the garden hose fountain.

Garden Hose Fountain in Bug's Life

We wandered through to the Farmer’s Market, the wharf obviously meant to be Monterey, across a bridge and stood watching a person with a pool skimmer standing still in the water below us. We had to wait and see if he was a statue or actually doing something. He turned out to be a duck herder, for all intents and purposes.

Duck Herder/Water Garbage Collector

Then we wandered over to the boardwalk, obviously modelled after Santa Cruz. Our first ride of the day? The Ferris Wheel.

The Ferris Wheel a la Disney

But more than just a ferris wheel. Each enclosed gondola had its own track, so as the gondola advanced to each station of the wheel, the car would move about on its own track. Some cars would be quite still while others were swinging wildly about. Each time we moved, I was focusing a shot through my camera and I would lose the horizon and start laughing/shrieking as I knew we were moving and experiencing vertigo. And I could never predict which direction we would move, or how fast. I was so glad it was just the two of us in our car, since we both immediately braced our legs against the seat opposite the ones we were in.

We debated the next ride, as we continued strolling about the grounds. We went back more than once to a vendor booth we saw in the Farmer’s Market that said shakes. As Chris put it, he wasn’t in the mood for a shake until he saw the sign for it. And then he was really in the mood for it. He really wanted a shake. But they were not open. No matter how many times we looked.

About this time we saw people walking by soaking wet. What ride had they been on? We hadn’t seen a water ride anywhere. We found it. It is meant to be a white water rafting thing, set in the Sierra Nevadas. We too got soaked, and I am only completely dry now, having finally been able to change out of my clothes!

The Rafting Excuse for a Good Soaking

The third time we circled to check on the shake shack, the wine tasting area opposite was open. We had to go see if there really was wine. And, there was. He had gotten a slice of pizza earlier, where I noticed beer was sold, and here, there was wine! We both enjoyed a glass. California vintage, of course.

That was when I agreed to the roller coaster. I figured, I was quite relaxed, so now would be the best time to do it. It was an impressive looking thing, wrapping entirely around, above and beside the pier boardwalk. The actual starting point was on top of the water.

Some of the Roller Coaster

Waiting for a roller coaster is always the worst for me. I try hard to think of other things, but Chris kept telling me that we were going to die, and that just didn’t help. I start almost getting to panic attack stage. Once on a roller coaster, I just tightly scrunch my eyes and focus on relaxing. This coaster was going to do a full 360 loop, so I knew that was coming up. Breathe. Breathe. This coaster also had the harness and cushioned pads that came down in front and encircled your upper body. No serious neck jostling, and the harness would keep me in my seat when I became momentarily weightless. Nothing to do but relax.

And that’s what I did. I don’t scream, I just focus on breathing, and often laugh. The man in the seat ahead of us sounded like he was having a great time, and then all of a sudden screamed: “Oh my God! Oh my God!” and that definitely set me off laughing. In what way had the ride gotten any worse?

It was good. I felt fine. It was fun. I’m sure my Merlot helped, but the remembering to breathe and relax had been all me. Like a zen exercise: can you relax even when at 0 Gs? Chris was actually worse off, as his pizza slice was reminding his stomach of its presence.

Next we did a shoot ’em up using 3-D Toy Story, that was lots of fun, then Mulholland Madness, a little mini roller coaster, then the Jelly Fish drop, swinging our legs madly, then the Zephyr as we floated above the water and the construction zone of the new Wonder of Color exhibit they are working on, and then we went to the Bug’s Life and attempted to play bumper cars. But the kids weren’t aggressive enough, and by the time everyone had figured out a strategy not to get caught in a traffic jam, the ride was done.

It was time for the Tower of Terror, the elevator drop. Since we had to go through a service/utility area of the fake hotel it is housed in, it got us both thinking of the Edison in downtown, a bar that is housed inside of what was the first electrical generating plant in LA, in the basement of the only building it electrified. He has not been, and I have not been when it actually was open as a bar, only as part of a tour of historical architecture. Of course we will need to go and check that bar out, in the future.

We got in the actual ride part. We were to sit in the back, so fortunately we had someplace to rest our heads. I was a little worried, since we didn’t get strapped in, only lap belts and only had metal handholds beside each seat to clutch. And clutch we did! The first time we dropped, maybe three stories, my hand immediately grabbed the only thing within reach, where Chris’ hand already was. And I did not let go! I would have grabbed anything available at that point. I felt sorry for any strangers sitting next to one another. Awkward! Relax, breathe, relax, breathe, was my only mantra and thoughts. And oddly exhilirating. There was one point where I honestly could not tell if we were going up or coming down. And just when you thought we were done, we weren’t. Several times over. Even when we were done, I didn’t believe we were, even though the doors opened. Trick! But no, it was just time to get off. I kept my eyes open the entire time. I think.

Not a favorite of Chris’, who had already mentioned on the ferris wheel, he is not a fan of plummeting. And plummet we did! Chris has now plummeted enough for a lifetime. I could do it again. Apparently I am more of a plummet fan, and he more a roller coaster fan. Previous to this experience, I did not think I was a fan of either. And yes, I am aware these are tame rides compared to some other amusement parks.

There were a few more rides and exhibits we did, and then we were done. I was hungry and refused to pay as much as was being charged. We did go through the tortilla factory in fake Monterey, and so I had at least one fresh and warm tortilla in my stomach. But I needed more.

Fake Monterey with Tortilla Factory and Bakery

So off we left, passing under mini-Golden Gate Bridge, which hide the overhead monorail tracks, just before the sun set.

Mini Golden Gate Bridge

I think I actually enjoyed California Adventure more. Not just because of the wine or the rides, but because the places it was trying to evoke are real and tangible, and could be easily experienced in real life for more adventure. Seeing fake Sierra Nevadas at the top of Grizzly Peak made Chris want to get out of the raft and explore the mountain. Seeing faux Monterey made me want to go and really explore that town, since every time I have passed through I have not had the time, or it was the middle of the night. And Chris confessed he had never been to Santa Cruz, so had no idea about the boardwalk it was similar to here. In fact, the whole experience made the both of us want to go on a road trip. Again, something we may arrange to do in the future.

Disneyland does not create that same tangible wanting moreness afterwards. Okay, maybe the part that is like New Orleans. Or the Mississippi River. Or the Jungle Cruise. But those are real places again. It’s a Small World doesn’t make me want to go visit any place in particular. Riding Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride or twirling in the Tea Cups doesn’t make me want to rent those movies or throw a tea party.

 All in all, a most enjoyable time. Enjoyable weather, company, sights, experiences. And with a Mexican meal to finish off the night, perfect. In my very own neighborhood, a little restaurant Chris just happened to know. A perfect all day date, if that was what it was. A perfect day, if it weren’t.

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