Disney the Adult way
I have visited the Disney theme parks in the US as an adult twice up until this summer, once in Florida, which left me with a distinct taste of “never again”. Mainly because what I remember of the holidays I spent in Florida as a child had been replaced by something far less ‘magical’. This boiled down to staff that didn’t care about their customers and a farcical Disney dining plan. Then a few years later and under protest I went to the California Disneyland Park (I should explain that Disneyland California consists of two parks), which I enjoyed a little more, and somewhat redeemed my impression of Disney’s Theme park offering.
So while in California last month visiting friends, who have a season ticket pass to the park and based on the positive California Disneyland Park experience, we went on a trip to Disney’s California Adventure Park. Now on face value at just short of a hundred dollars, it may seem a lot of money compared with what you may pay in a similar sized park in the UK but it is well worth the money.
So, right off the bat, I have to say as someone who was brought up on “southern hospitality” I am a true convert to the California Parks and favor them over Florida immensely.
First of all the staff are much friendlier and on entering the park I have to say that it felt like it had a more grown up feel. It’s sort of a cross between Coney Island in New York State and small town USA, rather than some free for all of obese southern state people pushing their way through.
So the ‘Adult way’ firstly check for reservations at the Carthay Circle restaurant. The place is a calm oasis in between the buzz and hubbub of the park. For the small price of around sixty dollars you can sample a three-course menu which could rival any fine dining option, that would set you back at least a hundred dollars, especially in California.
The other great thing about choosing this set menu is that you also get a VIP spot to view the closing water and light show in the evening. I have to admit the show is pretty amazing, even without the view that you get by choosing to dine the civilized way. Carthay Circle also has a great cocktail bar too.
Another thing that makes this park so much better, if you appreciate being able to wander round the park with a drink in your hand is the fact that, unlike its contemporary across the other side of the lot, it has kiosks that serve potent Margaritas. It can make queuing for the rides so much more agreeable.
On the subject of which, these are my recommendations for the best rides.
Firstly, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (this has to be my favorite). This is what you could call a vertical roller coaster, which will throw you up and down multiple times offering screams galore.
Obviously the popular rides have a bit of a wait, so pop over to the ride and get a Fastpass to allow you to come back later rather than waiting. Then, go off and do something else.
Another favorite is Soarin’. Any of you who have been to Epcot in Florida will know it is worth a wait. The ride is basically a simulated flying experience over scenic points of interest of the State. It is amazing, and for those of you who have had the Florida experience, the California version is infinitely better because the scenic tour flies you over California, which arguably has the best of all landscapes in the country and some of the most varied.
Other great rides include the Grizzly River Run, which is actually more fun on a warm summers night just before the ending water show. Mainly because it is dark so its always something unexpected and secondly because it doesn’t matter if you get a little splashed. Finally I would also recommend the California Screamin’ roller-coaster which is plenty of fun with twists and turns.
Other great things about this Disney park is the Alfresco Tasting Terrace at Pacific Wharf; it’s a perfect little spot to get snacks or small dishes along with a well-priced bottle of wine. My tip is to pop here before you go to Soarin’. After a few glasses of wine the ride really does become even more enjoyable.
My final tip if you are travelling to California and really pushing the boat out is to stay at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel and Spa for the night. It’s perfect if you plan to drink the whole day and cant drive home in an intoxicated state. The rooms are just above average for California prices, but at the end of the evening after the water and light show, you will find the hotel just a few minutes walk away giving you the added luxury of not having to wait for transport to the exit the park. Also, you can crash out on one of the super comfy beds. If you plan to visit the park the following day to finish off the rides you didn’t do you can enter the park an hour earlier than non-hotel guests meaning that you will get access to that ride you didn’t get round to, before the rest of the crowds arrive. This is Disney the way that it was meant to be done.
In short, alcohol plus some good food and the amazing California sun equals a great day at Disney.