We enjoyed New Orleans' style cuisine at Ralph Brennan's Jazz kitchen.
Then we wandered through Downtown Disney where I found that amazing Lego Maleficent being a total bad ass and Michael ate a delicious turkey leg marshmallow rice treat. We walked to the Disneyland Resort (the entrance to which is a giant sorcerer's hat) and had cocktails at Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar. Remind me to post a pic of the adorable souvenir barrel cups we got.
Tuesday was all about Disneyland:
I got a few pictures of the castle, a duck butt (it was adorable watching that little guy's legs flailing), the Matterhorn which was under construction while we visited in February, and Pixie Hollow. Sadly, I did not wait in line to meet Tinker Bell since it was a 45 minute wait... but I think next time I will. I love Tink! It also happened to be Disneyland's 57th birthday that day!!!
While I like Disneyland and its iconic rides well enough, the park feels cramped and is frustrating just to walk through (and I spent many summers of my childhood visiting WDW in June). It's a park for families and children wanting to meet Mickey and ride Dumbo. Though I'll never be able to skip Disneyland as my favorite ride will always be Big Thunder Mountain and I have to go on at least once every trip!
So Wednesday we made it to my favorite park (probably in the whole of the Walt Disney theme park company): California Adventure. I'd been to CA Adventure summer of 2003 and... it wasn't anything special. But the improvements have made a world of difference... a Disney World of difference! See what I did there?
Most recently, Disney turned the entrance into "Buena Vista Street:" a tribute to the Los Angeles that Walt would've lived in when "it all started with a mouse." Plus Cal Adventure also just opened a little section called... CARS LAND!!!
The wonderfully retro entrance to California Adventure. The new trolley car in Buena Vista Street.
The latest and greatest of the gourmet Disney Parks' restaurants, the Carthay Circle has international cuisine that's been "Californianized." I ordered the Korean pulled pork with my very first sunny-side up egg, kimchi, and fries. BEST. FOOD. EVER. We grabbed a midday cocktail in the Lounge first and spent a leisurely lunch chatting and staring at the desserts as we were seated in front of the pastry chef's line.
In true Disney fashion, the manager gave us a free Summer Country Pie (berries and white nectarines!) as he overheard us admiring everything. Our waitress gave me two birthday truffles and our entire party premium seat tickets to World of Color. Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see the show as we left for home that night since we hadn't gotten any sleep on Tuesday and were EXHAUSTED.
CARS LAND!!!! It was adorable-- straight out of the film! Mom modeling the souvenir tire hat.
Another new addition to California Adventure (and all of Disney) is Starbucks! Some genius at Starbucks got together with some genius at Disney and finally asked, "Why the hell haven't we started a joint venture yet?!" You can use your coupons and gold cards at this location :)
Michael got me some stellar Mickey jewelry for my birthday!!
And what would a post about Cal Adventure be without a shot of the "Pier" and Radiator Springs Racers at dusk.
If you get the chance to visit California Adventure and experience the new Radiator Springs Racers ride-- please do so. But you need to be at there by 8am to get a Fast Pass as they run out of those by 9:30am. The stand-by wait was 2 and a half hours Tuesday night, but after experiencing the ride on Wednesday (I went the shorter route and waited in the single rider line), it's worth waiting for.
What kind of a ride is it? Well, you ride in a 6-seater car and begin the ride by driving through the "canyon" and admiring the waterfall. Then suddenly you enter a tunnel, are almost hit by Mack the Truck and are pulled over by Sheriff. You enter Radiator Springs and all your favorite characters greet you. Then you're challenged to a race, Luigi and Guido give your car new tires, and you're off racing around the canyon with another car full of passengers! As is the Disney way, everyone wins and you're definitely smiling by the end.
It's not a thrill ride: Racers is just plain fun. I had no idea the scope of this ride until I get inside to see that the Imagineers recreated the town and life-size cars. I mean... they even move their "lips" to talk! If you remotely like the movie Cars, this ride will not disappoint.
Having the opportunity to spend any birthday at any Disney park is a blessing, so I am truly grateful for the amazing birthday gift from my mother (parents-- my dad couldn't go). That woman also paid for several meals, Karen treated us all to dinner at the Blue Bayou (the restaurant INSIDE the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) and a bracelet, not to mention my mom still got me a purse, Starbucks card, and clothes. I'm spoiled, it's true.
My next Disney goal is to go back with Michael-- just the two of us-- and stay at the Grand Californian. Either that or book a resort at WDW since he's never been there...