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A 30-something living in the foothills of the Virginia mountains; I'm saved by grace, addicted to coffee and my little sister is my best friend! I devote most of my time to exploring, reading, attending as many Nationals games as possible and documenting life here. My Prince Charming got lost somewhere along the way...but I'm trying to remain hopeful that true love exists.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

California Dreamin - Radiator Springs is my New Favorite Place


This post could alternately be titled - I took a ton of pictures - but I decided not to call it that...because honestly, the other title is more accurate. I had never been to California Adventure before but I can say with absolutely certainty that it was my favorite of the two parks that make up DisneyLand and at least 75% of that is because of Cars Land - it was absolutely one of the most amazing Disney creations I've ever seen. It's also the reason for all the pictures...so...enjoy! 

Ornament Valley in Radiator Springs...
Radiator Springs Racers!
California Adventure is made up of several different "lands" much like Disney Land is; they consist of Buena Vista Street, Paradise Pier, Grizzly Peak, Cars Land, A Bug's Land, Pacific Wharf and Hollywood Land, encompassing multiple facets of California...combined with Disney magic, of course! This park felt so open and never really seemed too crowded; I definitely noticed the crowds more at Disney Land! Cars Land was obviously my favorite, but I also really loved the closely located Paradise Pier and Pacific Wharf, reminiscent of an old world beach pier and wharf district.


Paradise Pier

 

Cars Land is absolutely amazing - I cannot say enough about how captivated I was by this area of the park...and I'm a thirty-one year old! Granted, I'm also a diehard Disney fan but I was completely floored by how much it literally felt like stepping into the middle of an animated film - the attention to detail is mind-boggling! You enter the town of Radiator Springs and walk past Tow Mater's junk yard, complete with tractor shaped "cattle" and on down the road past Sarge's Surplus, Flo's Cafe, Luigi's Tires and most importantly of all...Flo's Cozy Cone Motel...before bringing you to the central focus of Radiator Springs - the City Hall and the Radiator Springs Racers! The Cozy Cone was my absolute favorite set-up of them all - I wanted to check in to one of the Cones and stay the night in Radiator Springs! Sadly, the Cones are set up as food vendors...but it is still absolutely amazing.

I read online that Cars Land is a near perfect life size replica/scale model of Radiator Springs - personally I think it's pretty perfect. All the pictures I took should prove that...and these aren't even all of them!

Lightning McQueen was marveling at all the "traffic" on the road...
Route 66 Indeed!
Where can I check in??

Mater had stopped in at the Cozy Cone to visit!
We really thought Jeffrey needed this hat! Don't you??
So. Freaking. Cool.
Of course, there is so much more to California Adventure than Cars Land - although I'd have been content to stay there all day just marveling at it all, ha-ha! We perused Paradise Pier and rode some rides there (mostly my family; I don't do height or drops or loops...remember) before learning that It's Tough to be a Bug! We had started the day at Grizzly Peak and rode Soarin, another favorite ride of mine and since we had ridden most everything we wanted to by about 1:30 and the Fast Passes for Tower of Terror (nope - not for this chick) weren't until 4:30, we went back to the hotel for a while...after Lindsey and I made a short stop at Grizzly River Run.

Grizzly River Run is a multi-person water raft ride and without fail, every single time I board one of these bad boys, I know that I will somehow end up being the person that ends up absolutely drenched! Grizzly River Run was no exception - somehow on both drops, when the tidal wave of water cascaded over the raft, they cascaded right on to me! Thankfully our hotel was connected to California Adventure and once Lindsey and I hopped off, I only had a short walk in soaking wet clothes to our room!

You will get wet...if you're me, you will definitely get soaked!
Waiting around for Cap to show up...
After spending about an hour at the pool (and getting sunburned - oops) and then changing into clothes that weren't still dripping from Grizzly River Run, we headed back into the park around 4:00 and caught a sneak peak of Alice: Through the Looking Glass before Lindsey and my Mom rode Tower of Terror - twice - and then we headed to Ariel's Grotto for supper. We were situated on the lake at Paradise Pier and had a wonderful three course meal as the sun set; Lindsey and I felt it was only fitting to end our meal by riding Voyage of the Little Mermaid for the second time that day and then we cruised back over to Radiator Springs to look around while my (sweet and wonderful) parents waited to grab seats for the night time show!

Ornament Valley & Wheel Well Falls at dusk...
Racers speeding past...
Posing with the founder of Radiator Springs - Stanley!
Lindsey and I's intention in walking back to Radiator Springs was to see all the neon lights but we were beginning to despair at being able to catch a glimpse of them... However, as we rounded the corner near City Hall, a 50's era song rang through the streets and beginning at City Hall and moving down the street, each and every light popped on in an amazing and magical (it's Disney - duh) sequence that left Lindsey and I standing in captivation and then hopping around in delight. In case you were unaware, when at Disney we are both about five again. We immediately raced around snapping pictures of everything in sight, absolutely enchanted by everything all over again. Radiator Springs and Ornament Valley took on a whole different life once the sun set!

When can I check into a Cone?
No Vacancy...but we're still smiling!
Radiator Springs by night...
A panoramic of the Ornament Valley
Wheel Well Falls as evening descends...
We finally drug ourselves away from Radiator Springs and back over to Pacific Pier for the nighttime show World of Color - and I don't even really know how to accurately describe it beyond saying you have to see it. There are jets of water that shoot hundreds of feet in the air, scenes from Disney films projected on to sheets of mist, giant fireballs that soar into the sky...it's captivating to say the least. I stood firmly enchanted for over twenty minutes in awe of what was unfolding. Hence - I don't have many pictures... But then again, it's hard to capture water jets and fire and mist projections in all their glory with an iPhone...

Mickey's Fun Wheel
Water + Fire = Whoa.
To end the night...we went back to Radiator Springs! Of course! After Lindsey and I went on and on about how amazing everything was, my parents decided we needed to stop back in for them to see how cool it was. I took more pictures and wondered if there was somewhere I could sneak to and hide so I could just hang out there for the rest of the night...but yea, the Cozy Cone had no vacancies...so after snapping a few (okay a ton) more pictures, I was persuaded to head back to the hotel for the night. A day very well spent indeed!

The Ornament Valley by night.
Radiator Springs & the Cadillac Mountain Range.

In Case You Wondered (Lodging & Food)

Ghiradelli Soda Fountain & Chocolate Shop in Pacific Wharf: counter service; obviously ice cream & chocolate are the breakfast of champions!

Flo's V8 Cafe in Radiator Springs: counter service, seriously adorable, not too pricey!

Ariel's Grotto in Paradise Pier: sit down meals; on the pricier side, we did the World of Color dining package & I'd highly recommend this option. It's a three course meal w/a guaranteed seating section for the World of Color show! Not fighting crowds is a huge plus & the food was delicious!

The Grand Californian Hotel & Spa: one of three hotels at Disney Land; gorgeous...rooms are a bit wee for four (grown) people...but still really lovely!


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