We got a jump start when we arrived at the airport to find our flight delayed but hustled ourselves onto the flight that was just leaving-nice! Clever E- booked us a park view room in the Grand Californian, my favorite for visiting California Adventure. There are perks to the birthday visit-special photos of Disney characters, a lovely big bunch of balloons, a washcloth birthday cake, and a personalized Happy Birthday pin. The thing about the birthday pin is that any cast member that sees it, then wishes you a Happy Birthday. I knew this and didn't think it was a big deal and so put on my pin on my actual birthday....and it turned out to be more touching than expected. Because really, these are people you don't know, and in fact you know they are being paid to say Happy Birthday. And yet every single one of the wishes felt sincere. Because in fact it is not EVERY single employee, it is many, but they all clearly took the time and meant it. My favorite was the guy in the candy shop in Critter Country. There he is behind the window making tray after tray of 3 marshmallows on a stick, which is the basis for 15 different versions of 'Tigger Tails'. And I go to watch, at some point he looks up and points at my button and mouths Happy Birthday with a really big smile. I say thank you...and go off and buy a Tigger Tail (a version with sugar-sprinkled, chocolate-coated carmel-covered marshmallows which took 2 days for the 2 of us to eat!!).
*Star Tours Spoiler Alert*
This is out first visit since the new Star Tours opened so of course we have to go....but we also know how incredibly popular it will be since it opened less than a month ago! We decide to use our Magic Morning time on both Saturday and Sunday to see it as many times as possible. That turns out to be a FANTASTIC plan, each day we made it on 3 times in the hour! So, in case you haven't heard, they have a mix and max function for the Star Tours. You start with 1of 2 different intros, a visit to 1 of 3 different planets, have 1 of 2 different transitions, and get 1 of 3 different endings. In our 6 visits we got to see each of the different segments, and I won't detail it all for you, but you may get to see Yoda, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, Cornel Akbar, Storm Troopers, and you may get to visit the wookie planet, the Death Star, Coruscant, Hoth, Jar-Jar Binks on his planet, and pod-racing. So obviously all of this is cool-a really nice mix of the old and the new movies and variable stories (collect them all!). But the really brilliant part, is that they now pick a member of the audience, who gets involved with the plot! And the universe being what it is...I got picked on my birthday-yeah me!
We did an especially impressive job of maximizing ride time-I always like to tailor the trip to the groups interests and E- and I are all about riding our favorite rides with as little wait time as possible! We strategize with FastPasses and timing options and probably walk back and forth more than the average visitor...but it is well worth it! In addition to the many small rides, we rode Indiana Jones twice, Space Mountain twice, the Matterhorn and Splash Mountain all on Saturday. We also like to do some of the odd rides that we don't often visit. Innoventions-meh. The Davy Crockett canoes-the guides seem to be in training for the Jungle Cruise-awesome! The other people in the canoe will most likely not know how to paddle, so you kind of want to just turn around and explain...just follow me, don't try to think! Addition of pirates to Tom Sawyer Island? Simple execution, but a nice touch. And of course Star Tours 6 times!!
The Ariel ride is new since we were here last. It's nice, but I somehow feel that it is lacking a little bit of soul...but maybe that grows on you. They finally took down the Power Tower-and I never even rode it-nothing lost there! The Toy Story ride is so much fun and I'm not sure why because it is really just a video game. But everyone loves it and it is one of the few that we wait in line for. We ride California Screamin' 3 times during the day-this is my favorite in the whole place, it is just such a perfect coaster!
Of course we don't ONLY ride the rides here. When we arrive on Friday we ride the rafting ride first, but then we hang out at the pool with lovely drinks. We eat a turkey leg and ear of buttered corn. Saturday night we have our super nice dinner at the Napa Rose. We also exit the hotel through one of the very plain stair sets at the end of a boring hallway to discover that it is an exit that bypasses much of the downtown pathways to arrive at the park entrance-bonus! We also check out the night time street show Electronica. The street entertainers get to wear cool glowing costumes and play frisbee, which is cool. But LaserMan 3D is awesome! LaserMan is a mime in a future outfit, with lasers, which sounds lame. But when you see it, it is so well done that you may not realize it is a mime until it is too late and you have already enjoyed the show :0
Best Birthday Ever!!