Packed Wall to Walmart

2014_12_31_21_43_02_ProShotAfter three days we are finally getting a break from the cold.

The park has bee a blast, but we managed to come down during a record cold snap, and everyone here is bundled up like they are skiing. We picked up a few extra sweatshirts, and did the traditional Seattle layering up, but this is way colder than we expected. What’s even more surprising, is that this hasn’t hit the size of the crowds at all. We went for new year’s day to Disney and the crowds were crazy. the park was wall to wall with people, and everyone was bundled and wrapped up to the hilt. I was really surprised at how cold it was. I could really feel the heat draining out my feet and head, even with a sweatshirt. In the afternoon Yulia swung by the room and grabbed some extra clothes, and  it was still getting colder and colder.

Main Street was done up with huge screens and a stage for the countdown at midnight, and there was a special fireworks on the schedule. It looked great. The whole park was done up in Christmas and “Frozen” themes. The themes fit well with the temperatures, but we could have done without the added realism. We hit as many of the indoor rides that we could, but the crowds were making that impossible as well. Overall New Year’s Day was nice but just too cold and too much of a zoo to really be productive. I will say that the fireworks were amazing, and all the special Holiday themed rides are great (the Haunted House is done up with a Nightmare Before Christmas theme, the castle is Frozen, and there are decorations all over.)

I think the most interesting thing  in the park is the people watching. kids are super cute, the younger ones especially, dressed up as their favorite character in the park. Going on a ride with people new to the park is like being new again. all the laughs and screams from those not expecting the next surprise is just as entertaining as the ride itself. (We also love scaring kids in the Indiana Jones ride with the pole that goes BOOM in the queue. if you don’t know what this is, you are missing out.)

But not everything is great of course. I think the worst thing is people who don’t know how to handle being in a crowd. it isn’t a big deal when the crowds are low, but once things get busy, it only takes a few people to really screw things up. Disneyland is a busy crowded place. They manage thousands of people a day in a pretty small area, and do a really good job at it. but everything grinds to a halt when you get someone from Podunk, Arkansas who things that the local Walmart underpants sale is a pretty big event pulls one of these:

  • Have the whole family of 10 with a stroller and Mom in a mobility cart stop right in the middle of the path to look at the map.
  • Argue about wanting to go through the Fastpass lane without a Fastpass because it’s empty.
  • Drive a mobility cart into a line for a ride, getting stuck in the first turn of the line.

Actually, I think anything with one of those damn mobility carts is on my shit list. We saw a couple of rides where the line to come in the back way with a cart was as long as the line out front. We actually were trapped exiting the Indiana Jones ride to let a series of carts and the families come in the exit. it was crazy.

But that’s just part of the deal. Crowds are full of people, and most people suck. You just have to let them go and enjoy the good ones. And the squeal of a little kid meeting Mickey for the first time with a big hug goes a long way. Even Sasha was excited to meet some of the characters, including Oswald the Rabbit, and Jack Skellington, whom I had never seen at the park before.

I also think that the food just keeps getting better. We had a great dinner at the ESPN SportsBar. The Orange Bowl was on, and most of the people were cheering for one team, so I cheered for the other. I truly didn’t care about the outcome, but it just isn’t fun if you don’t pick sides. We also got tickets to see Trombone Shorty at the House of Blues. The opening act was The Record Company, another Blues band. It was an amazing show. I love blues in general, but this was absolutely over the top. I need to get on the mailing list for both bands. We will be planning to get tickets for the House of  Blues on our next trip as well, the venue is fun, and if you order early, they have some reserved tables. (And by the smell of the place, the Second-Hand Pot is free! )

Our favorite is still the Winery in California Adventure. it used to be the Golden Vine, but they changed it to the Wine Country Trattoria after their partnership with Mondovi Wines ended. The wine selection is mostly Napa and Central California, and the patio has a view right in the center of the park and you can watch people going back and forth to the rides. We overdid the walking on the first few days (averaging around 20,000 steps per day) so we took a several hour rest on our third day while Sasha ran around the park with some friends who were at the park at the same time.

We also had dinner there as part of their “World of Color” deal. You can wait to get a great spot to se the show (even if you grab a show Fastpass you need to get there early), or you you can order dinner with tickets from several of the restaurants in the park (Fantasmic runs the same deal). So we had dinner, wine, dessert, then had VIP spots to se the Holiday World of Color show. Well worth the time and money.

We had a late flight out, so we rented a car and drove to Venice Beach for the midday before catching our flight. Venice is great. It is really a funky old section of Los Angeles. A few of the original Canals remain, and we found breakfast at a joint that had one of the original Gondolas hanging from the ceiling. The weather had finally turned, it was warm on the boardwalk, and we walked up from Muscle Beach past the shops and Green Doctors for a few hours. The whole place is a big hippie zone, The street art and street people are great to see. We easily could have spent the day there (we found an old-school Freakshow which looked great, but we were out of time)

We finished with a walk in the sun, on the beach.  It was good the get the heat that we were hoping for, even if it was just for the last day.