If you live in Southern California or are a Disney Freak I’m sure for the past several weeks all you’ve heard about is the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure (DCA) and the New Cars land/Radiator Springs at DCA. On June 15, 2012, after a 1.1 billion dollar upgrade California Adventure reopened to the public (after being closed for one day) with a whole new look! The Golden Gate Bridge was removed and a new Buena Vista street (A modern knock off on Main Street at Disneyland) welcome guests. A trolley now runs through the park and Radiator springs take guests into a retro route 66 themed land completed with everything from Flows V8 Café, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and Radiator Springs Racer.
For whatever crazy reason, last week my friend and I decided it would be a good idea to go the night before to get opening day wrist bands for the grand opening. According to the Disney Blog, this meant lining up at 11pm for wrist bands in the parking lot of Disneyland and then returning home to sleep for a few hours to return by 6am to ensure our place in line. However, unfortunately one getting our wrist band this soon changed.
Around 1am, after waiting in a number of cues (one that was the initial line up, another for our wrist band, and a third for the park) we finally received our color coded wrist band. We were number 550 to get into the park!! We were exhausted but ready to get home to sleep for a few hours of rest when we were told if we left the line we would lose our spots!! We looked at each other baffled for neither of us had spent on spending the night! We had decided that at this point there we were already invested so camping out was the only option! However we were 100% unprepared!
I rushed home (20 miles away) to return my company car and to grab us throw away camping gear (old sleeping bag) and snacks. By the time I returned with Chap stick, Jack in the box, and a sleeping bag is we almost 3 am, however we were ready to spend the night more comfortably. It was not Hilton accommodation, but the warm cement between DCA and Disneyland was going to be home for the night.
The camp out continued with Charisse and I trying to nap on the sidewalk. Be crammed in between people and on the ground neither of us were clearly comfortable. Not to mention, not everyone was trying to sleep so the excessive noise made it difficult. Then after almost falling asleep, the good year blimp decided that 4am was the perfect time to fly over at less than 500 feet! The loud boisterous engines chilled us and woke us up down below. As we rolled over in disbelief we fought to fall back to sleep, yet it was an useless attempt because at 445, the cameras started rolling and it was almost time to greet the East Coast for the live tapping of “Good Morning America”. So thousands of “campers” rose to their feet and starting clapping and chearing on cue to say good morning to the east coast!
The intermittent cheers continued until around 5:30 when it was time to stand up and move. The line started moving and by 7 am (it moved VERY slowly) we were inside the park! The sparkling new Bueno Vista street welcomed us with shops and fruit stands that represents the Mission and Art Deco facades housing shops and restaurants that Walt Disney experienced when he first arrived in LA in the 1920s.
After a brief introduction and dedication ceremony, that of course included Mickey Mouse, we were free to enter the park! We rushed for car lands to see what was behind the scaffolding for the last two years and hidden from the public eyes! We were welcomed to Radiator Springs with everything from the Car lands sign, Neon lights, new rides, shops, and cafes.
In Disney style, Disney did not miss a beat in developing car land. Every aspect of the money is represented and over the top! Our first stop was Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree! Due to the early entry into the park we were among the first to get to ride! The ride, resembling the tea cups meat the egg scrambler was actually more entertaining than it looks, as Tow Mater swings you around in circles switching between 3 large circular tracks. The ride ended and we worked our way to Luigi’s Flying Tires. Again Disney over did it and the cuing area is themed 100% like the tire shop from the movie. With lots to examine, one is guaranteed not to be bored while waiting! However, luckily for us, there was no line and we jumped on the ride within 10 minutes of entering the cue. This ride – not so exciting! It’s technology reused from the 1960’s flying saucer ride in Tomorrow land. Although it isn’t a great ride, it’s worth riding (once and one time only!).
By the time we got of this ride it was now 10am and we were utterly exhausted. We had both been up for nearly 30 hours and we were ready to call it quits. Cars land had become so crowded that you couldn’t actually take a full step, but instead people were shuffling their feet forward to move. It was so crowded I felt like a sheep being herded through the park! DCA that day set a record with over 43,000 people visiting the park, and I swear ALL 43,000 were inside cars land at the same time!
Although it was crowded the best part of the day was seeing the “cars” come to live! These interactive cars make car land!
Was it worth it? Yes! Would I do it again? I honestly do not know. However, if you’re planning a trip to Southern California this summer, a trip to the new DCA would be worth the stop!
Disneyland is surrounded by Hundreds of hotels of all brands (SPG, Hilton, Marriott, and Choice), therefore using points to book your stay for free or a discount should not be too much of a challenge. Furthermore, Disneyland is easily accessible from lower cost, less congested airports such as Santa Ana and Long Beach, or the much larger LAX. Disneyland passes now start at $87 for one park adult tickets or $119 for both parks, $158/$188 for 2 days, or $205/$235 for 3 days. However if you’re visiting the LA area, consider a Southern California City Pass which for $279 you can get a 3 day park hopper pass ($235 value), 1 day entry to Universal Studios ($79) and 1 day entry to Sea World ($73).
Pictures from Opening Day: