Friday, May 1, 2009

California Adventure

What I love about staying at the Grand Californian is its proximity to so many places. We have our own entrance into Disney's California Adventure (DCA), we can walk right into Downtown Disney and take the monorail into Disneyland, or, if we prefer, it's an easy walk, and we are close to the other Disneyland resort hotels, Paradise Pier and the Disneyland Hotel.

We spent the early part of today at DCA, starting in the Paradise Pier section and making a counter-clockwise circuit of the park. There is a lot of construction going on right now as they build an area for a new "nighttime spectacular" - World of Color - that looks like it will be like a cross between IllumiNations and Fantasmic.

There is a long range plan to transform DCA into a more Disney-esque park. There is even an exhibit in the Blue Sky Cellar, where you can see a preview of some of the plans for the future. They have already changed the Sunwheel into Mickey's Fun Wheel, with a giant Mickey head replacing the central sun and given it a red and yellow color scheme, and Games of the Boardwalk, Disney's version of carnival games, have opened. We rode a couple of the tamer Paradise Pier rides, Mulholland Madness and Jumpin' Jellyfish, and then joined the queue for Toy Story Midway Mania. This interactive ride-through virtual arcade is really fun. Mr. Potato Head greets riders as they enter the queue and today he noticed me. Commenting on the sunglasses I had on top of my head, he said, "That woman's hair must be famous, it's wearing sunglasses."

After that we left the hustle-bustle of the Pier behind and strolled through the much more laid-back Golden State area. The Food and Wine Festival is in progress and there are places to participate in Wine or Beer "Walks" where you can sample a variety of these, and there are special Festival items on most menus. We checked out the offerings in the Pacific Wharf area, and decided on table service at the Wine Country Trattoria. We had a nice quiet meal there overlooking the wharf.

After lunch we wandered through "a bug's land" and Flick's Fun Fair just to see what they were like - and they're very cute. There are some very pretty flower gardens in this area too. Then we went over to Hollywood Pictures Backlot to check out the Disney Animation building, where we watched the zoetrope in the Character Close-Up room, had our voices (singing Hi Ho, Hi Ho) stolen by Ursula in the Sorcerer's Workshop, and were amused, as usual, by Crush in Turtle Talk. There was a chef's demo going on in Sunshine Plaza, but it was full and in progress, so we didn't stop. I picked up a Food and Wine Festival t-shirt and then we decided to go see Aladdin again before heading back to the hotel.

We have adopted the Hearthstone Lounge at "The Grand" as our place to relax, and have a light meal or snacks. We picked up a cafe au lait and a latte there for a mid-afternoon break in our room. We'll go back to Disneyland later tonight for the fireworks. The park is open until midnight, so I'll probably include my comments about that in tomorrow's post. I have added all of today's photos so far to Flickr.

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