Cars Land was such an over-the-top experience, my head is still spinning and I’m still flying high. As you can see, I changed the header pic to one I’d taken on the trip. Wowsa! It’s true what they say – nothing has been this big since the opening of Indiana Jones. Both attractions changed the landscape of what I had known before and both times I threatened to give up Disney for good. (Obviously, I got over that – lol!)
This first trip back just a year-and-a-half later was bound to have a few bumps – Cars Land was bound to have changed our DCA experience. And it did – some good and some not-so-good, in our opinion. If the Disney suits had hoped that opening DCA would turn Disneyland into Disney World, well, their dream has come true 13 years later with Cars Land. And I’m talking about the worst (to us) of Disney World without the best of Disney World.
The beauty of Disney World is the sheer size and space – the beauty of Disneyland was the intimacy, the special feeling that this was a locals park, our park, with personal touches and interactions. For the most part, this is gone! And I’m not the first to say it. I’m not sure how much I’ll go into this but maybe as things pop up, I will.
The “actual” was quite different from “the plan.” But this trip accomplished everything we’d set out to accomplish. The main reason we’d booked the GC over the DL Hotel was for access to DCA and Cars Land. With knee and back problems that crop up unexpectedly, I wanted to be sure we were as close as we could be so that I could do all we had set out to do. And it worked out beautifully. No back or knee problems – the access and the pace made for a really good trip.
This is the “First Trip Back to DL/DCA, Part 1 at the GC. Coming up will be the “First Trip Back to DL/DCA, Part 2 at the DL Hotel.
Day 1, May 3, Travel Day
After sipping our morning coffee, saying good-bye to the kitties, and leaving the check for the pet sitter, Rich loaded up the car and we drove off, heading down 101 south at 8:15 a.m. We were still unsure as to which route we would take – stay on 101 for the more scenic, coastal route or take 152 to I-5 for the faster, more direct route. But once the road opened up south of San Jose, we chose 152 to I-5. The wide open spaces were reminding us of the trip from Vegas to Disneyland and that appealed to us. Plus the fact that we thought it would be faster.
Exactly 6 hours later, with a short stop for lunch and gas, we exited at Disneyland Drive and checked into the Grand Californian – what a wonderful feeling! A friendly CM checked us in and our room was ready. We’d booked a standard view for this trip but our room was kitty korner to a park view we’d had on our first stay, and we could actually see some of the park. We call this a “peek into the park” view.
Anaheim was in the throes of a heat wave (low 90s) and we were hot and tired and I had a bit of a sore throat. So, after a brief rest, we went downstairs to our favorite Hearthstone Lounge for our usual Habanero Margarita.
Our favorite chairs were occupied but we managed to enjoy the FAB anyway – lol! It was definitely soothing for my throat. We also shared a Chicken Quesadilla. Yum!
We rested in the room some more before heading out to DCA to exchange our Annual Pass vouchers for our APs. I’m not sure I want to go into the AP comedy routine now (not so funny at the time – call this “annoyance #1”) but if you recall how amazing the experience was our first time in this report, you’ll know what I mean. The short version is this: you used to go to an AP processing center where a super friendly CM would chat with you, process your AP, and take your picture, which would be visible on your AP before you headed out the door. I loved how mine came out – we were the Big Kahuna Family wearing leis and it looked like I’d just flown in from Hawaii. I’d hoped they would just use that photo that they kept on file (like they had when we renewed it in the past).
Well, obviously, all of that was thrown out. There is no AP Processing Center but you can take care of the exchange at a ticket window. Okay, that sounded even more convenient. All went well. Until we entered the park and they asked for a photo ID. We thought, “I hope this is only needed the first time. Hope we don’t always have to show a photo ID.”
Well, to fast forward a bit: they asked for a photo ID on every entrance. Then they got snippy about us not having our picture on it. We were quite surprised. Nobody had told us we needed a picture. “Oh yes,” they said, “just go to any PhotoPass CM and they can take it for you.” Why hadn’t the CM at the ticket window told us to just to get our picture taken then? He hadn’t mentioned it at all.
Thanks to one particularly helpful CM (a friendly, older gentleman), we ended up going to the Photo Shop in DCA. But the funnies continued – the CM mistakenly put my picture on Rich’s AP and he had to go back to get his photo taken again. But the next time we entered the park, his picture hadn’t shown up so we went back to the Photo Shop again. They said it might take 24 hours for the photo to appear, but it still hadn’t shown up before we left. Hopefully, on our next trip, he won’t have to get his photo taken again.
As of last October, every ticket has to have a photo on it but a CM at the park entrance (including the GC entry) will happily take your picture if you have a regular ticket. But the AP holders have to make a special trip, interrupting their day, to get this photo taken. You feel as if you, an AP holder, is being pushed aside for those more “lucrative” ticket holders who put out cash on each visit. And by having these photos taken at the gate while you’re trying to get into the park, well, you can imagine the back-up. So now this is the first peek into Disneyland becoming more like WDW and not in a good way. Okay, something to get used to, a bit annoying, but, hopefully, this is just one of those first “gotchas” and we will move past this.
Next: Day 1, Part 2 – Dinner at Wine Country Trattoria and our first peek at Cars Land.